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5. Place security freezes and sign up for fraud alerts

Prevent criminals from setting up accounts in your name by placing a security freeze on your credit report. A security freeze places a hold on your credit file so that no new credit can be opened without the use of a personal identification number or password. A 2017 report by Credit Sesame indicated that less than 1 percent of adults have a security freeze on their credit reports, making this an underutilized resource.

In addition, if you believe your identity has been compromised, or if you just want to be extra cautious, you can place a fraud alert on your credit file. This forces any creditor to take extra steps to confirm your identity any time a new account is opened in your name. Fraud alerts generally last 90 days, but victims of identity theft can put one in place for up to seven years. The same 2017 Credit Sesame report states that only 7 percent of its members take advantage of fraud alerts.

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