Preventing Identity Theft

Updated on April 12, 2013
A.S. asks from Chicago, IL
4 answers

Our accountant mailed our tax returns, along with all of our records to prepare the returns, 1 week ago, and we still haven't received them. I guess there's still the possibility that they're just lost at the post office, but I have to prepare for the chance that they landed in the wrong hands. This is so stressful, and I'm completely freaking with our name, address and SSN on the paperwork. So... how do we protect ourselves against identity theft? I was looking on the Equifax website, and we can set up a fraud alert with any inquiry but it doesn't necessarily prevent the account from being opened. There are Security Freezes, which will block any new accounts from being opened; however, we are looking to buy a home in the coming months and will be mortgage shopping. Do we go ahead with a security freeze and lift it once we're in the mortgage process? It seems like the big 3 credit reporting agencies offer monitoring services (all for a fee), but I'm most interested in stopping any credit cards or loans being opened in our name. I want to stop it before it happens and not just get a notification once a new account has been opened or has a delinquent record, especially after seeing a "60 Minutes" story about how difficult it is to correct your credit report. What are the other considerations?? Huge thanks in advance.

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answers from Tulsa on

The safest option is to do a security freeze. You have to provide phone number and they will call you to verify you are trying to open credit. I believe that unless it is proven you are a victim of identity theft, it will cost you to put it on there and have it lifted when you do apply for credit. Check the websites of the reporting agencies to be sure.

Check with your insurance company to see if there is a rider or endorsement for identity theft. I would not pay for the monitoring services of the credit bureaus. Most of the time you won't need it, especially if you are putting a freeze on the account.

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answers from Columbia on

Chicago has NOTORIOUSLY horrible post offices. One week - is not time to panic. I used to live there and my daughter's dad would have to send items through the mail 2-3 WEEKS before he wanted her to receive it, so it would get there when he wanted her to have it.

I sent out invites for my wedding last December in Missouri.... 2 weeks to get to my mom, who lived in Chicago but took 3 DAYS to get to my brother in California.

So, I wouldn't panic just yet.

That said.... I think alerts are a good thing to have.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest that you're going way overboard here. It's unlikely that they've been stolen. The post office frequently is late in making deliveries. Did you double check with the tax person what address he sent them to. Did he include enough postage? Did he send them first class? From where did he mail them? Did he drop them off at the post office, put them in a neighborhood box, leave them at his mail box?

Talk with both the post office from which they were mailed and your own post office and ask if they've had difficulty with having mail stolen. Ask them what the hold up could be. If others have had mail stolen, then notify the credit reporting sites, in writing, of this possibility.

I know of no way that you can prevent identity theft for sure. If the credit reporting agencies have flagged your account then they will report to anyone asking for information. I would do a freeze. As you said, you can lift the freeze when you need to open an account.

Then I'd stop worrying about it. No need to scare yourself before anything has happened. I suggest that they'll show up in a few days.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My husband's computer was stolen in the midst of our refi back in December and it had ALL of our info on it.

Since we have expereinced credit card theft in the past, I was already familiar with some ways to help.

I called EACH of the big three credit reporting companies. There are some choices. You can add a faud alert on your credit reports (do this for BOTH you and hubby). When you have a fraud alert.... anytime an inquiry comes in to the company, they call you to confirm it.

Another option is a credit freeze. This is inconvenient if you are one who does apply for credit. This works for us because we don't apply for credit. Your accounts are frozen. You can remove the freeze when you need to. There are employers and back ground checks that sometime use a credit report. If you know someone is going to pull your report, just tell them ahead of time you are on fraud or freeze so they have a heads up.

Some of these may have some time limits, I am not sure. We've been on fraud alert for years and a freeze since we did the refi.

I personally will not pay someone to monitor or do what I can do myself. Use that money toward your new home.

1 mom found this helpful
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