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Marino on Money: June 9

READ MORE: Marino on Money: June 9
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In tonight's Marino on Money, Ross answers the question… How can you protect yourself against identity theft? You should check your credit at least once per year. Go to annualcreditreport.com and request your credit report. You are entitled to one free report each year. But is here is a trick. There are three major credit agencies: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. Instead of ordering all three reports at once, try to stagger the requests. Order the first report from one provider, order the next in four months from another provider, and then request a report from the final provider. This allows you to check your credit once every four months instead of once per year. Keep in mind, your credit reports do not always look the same at the different agencies. Creditors have some discretion in how they report your accounts, so some accounts may show on one report and not another. If you are on active duty in the military, you have the option of placing an active duty alert on your credit report. This will help minimize the risk of identity theft while you are on duty. The alert is good for one year, and you have the option of extending it. Tomorrow Ross will talk about protecting yourself from phisherman, but it has nothing to do about fish.

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Checking your credit report....

...is about as effective as shutting the barn door AFTER the horse has bolted. The only sure way to protect your identity is to freeze your credit files. Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax all have a program that enables you to do just that, or you can use one of the several credit monitoring services to do it for you. (They charge, but provide additional services.) You will receive a PIN to temporarily unfreeze it when you need to allow access to someone you want to run credit on you. One of the agencies will charge you $10 to do this, but that's a small price to pay for being totally protected when your credit is frozen. If someone tries to steal your ID, they can't run credit in your name; thus the identity theft is worthless, and immediately abandoned.