The three step process is a full cycle identity protection process that we have introduced to guide consumers in their efforts to prevent and detect identity theft. Of course identity theft like any other crime can never be fully contained however, we have determined that these 3 simple techniques when applied in concert with each other offer the most comprehensive and easy to follow process which allows individuals to prevent and detect identity theft as much as possible and helps them understand the concept behind a full cycle identity protection effort. The 3 steps are Freeze, Monitor and Review.
The first action in the three step process is to freeze the credit reports and accounts in order to block information flow. When we freeze the consumer credit report, businesses have no longer access to the customer credit report and therefore can not make credit decisions thus preventing the opening of new accounts with stolen identities. The freeze is much more reliable and different than fraud alerts for many reasons including impact on the speed to obtain credit, cost, as well as placement and removal from the credit reports. We will discuss these in more detail in future articles. Also, freezing unused accounts is a great way to prevent identity theft. You may have some accounts that you need to leave open but do not use very often due to travel or other reasons. In some cases, you may request to freeze these accounts or place temporary flags such as a travel flag.
The second action in the three step process is monitoring our identities online, offline, with automated tools or manually, credit reports and other accounts. We all have various accounts and identity components such as credit cards, insurance, data of birth, and other personal information that we need to monitor. There are many automated services that can help us monitor some of our personal information but there are many areas in the identity protection cycle that we have to take responsibility for such as monitoring checking, savings, utility, credit card, retirement and other account activities. You can read about a few reviews we have completed for automated monitoring services. Also, some financial accounts offer features which when activated will notify you regarding changes on your accounts. For example, debit and credit alerts of over certain amounts can be placed on some accounts for immediate notification.
The third and last action in the three step process for identity protection is fraud follow up following the review and detection of suspicious items that you have noticed during the monitoring and review of your accounts. In such cases, you need to carefully assess the items and promptly follow up to determine the best course of action such as closing the accounts, disputing the charges, filing a police report and any other necessary actions listed in the victim resource section. The credit report monitoring services notify you regarding changes on your credit reports but you still have to review the changes to determine if they are fraud related.