Protect Your Credit

Preventing identity theft also means protecting your credit reputation and credit record. To do that you may want to stop getting pre-approved credit card applications that can be stolen from your mailbox, make sure you credit report is accurate and no strange accounts show up on it, and maybe even freeze your credit file. Here's why and how for each of them.

Protecting Your Mail

Millions of pre-approved credit card applications are mailed out each year to consumers and many of them end up in the trash can. Don't just throw it away, where a "dumpster diving" thief can find it, fill it out and change the address and get credit in your name, run up the bill and stick you with a black mark on your credit record. Tear up that application first. And when mailing important documents or payment checks out in the mail, don't put them in your mailbox out front. That red flag is a signal to everyone that you've got mail they can get just by driving by. Drop those envelopes off at the post office. Better yet, if you want to stop getting those pre-approved credit card applications in the mail, just call 1.888.5.OPT.OUT. You can also stop most junk mail too by sending a letter with your first and last name, home address, and signature to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Assn, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.

Check Your Credit Report Regularly

You can get one free credit report on yourself each year from each of the three national credit bureaus and you should. Check to see if any strange credit inquiries show up, if any new accounts have been opened up that you don't know about, or if anything is inaccurate and just a plain mistake that needs fixing. To get your free report, go to or call them at 1.877.322.8228. The smart move is to get a free one from a different credit bureau once each 4 months. The info is a little different in each report, but a regular check of your report can keep you on top of things.

Freeze Your Credit Record

There's an even easier way to stop anyone from getting new credit in your name. Just freeze your credit file. It's sometimes called a "security" freeze and doing it makes it illegal for the credit bureau to release any information about you to new creditors without your express approval. That can make it very tough for an identity thief to use your personal identifying information to open up a new account or get a new credit card because stores and other credit card companies can't get a copy of your credit report from the only 3 credit reporting agencies who have it. Freezing your credit costs just $10 per credit bureau but is free for identity theft victims. To find out what the State Credit Freeze Law is in your state, click here.

You can contact the credit bureaus here:

[security freeze request]
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

[security freeze request]
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

[security freeze request]
PO Box 725
Columbus, OH 43216

[security freeze request]
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

And to find out more about your credit rights, check out Ohio Fair Credit, the web site that explains your rights and how to protect them.

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Known nationwide as a leading Lemon Law attorney, Ronald L. Burdge has represented literally thousands of consumers in "lemon" lawsuits and actively co-counsels and coaches other Consumer Law attorneys. From 2005 through 2018, attorney Ronald L. Burdge has been named as the only Lemon Law Ohio Super Lawyer by Law and Politics magazine and Thomson Reuters Corp., Professional Division. Burdge restricts his practice to Lemon Law and Consumer Law cases. The Ohio Super Lawyer results are published annually in the January issue of Cincinnati Magazine. Ronald L. Burdge was named Consumer Law Trial Lawyer of the Year 2004 by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the nation's largest organization of consumer law private and government attorneys. "Your impact on the auto industry has been magnified many times over because of the trail you blazed for others," stated NACA's Executive Director, Will Ogburn. Burdge has represented thousands of consumers in Ohio, Kentucky and elsewhere since 1978 and is a frequent lecturer to national, state and local Bar Associations and Judicial organizations. Burdge is admitted to Ohio's state and federal courts, Kentucky's state courts, and Indiana's federal courts. Other court admissions are on a "pro hac" temporary, case by cases basis.