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Special section Guarding against ID theft: myths and real stories

Planning to set up a fraud alert or credit freeze or buy credit monitoring? Consider these reader experiences first.

Using fraud alerts, credit freezes and credit monitoring

Like anything else, you don't know what it's like until you experience it.

It's one thing to read about how credit freezes, fraud alerts and credit-monitoring services should work, and another to know what really happens once you set up one of these identity theft protections.

So, we asked.

To help expose less-obvious drawbacks and benefits of credit-monitoring services, credit freezes and fraud alerts, we queried our newsletter subscribers about their experiences using them.

Not surprisingly, some readers related tales of woe, while others expressed satisfaction.

What works best? To each his own
Consumer advocates and credit bureaus push different advice to consumers concerned about identity theft. One side makes credit freezes sound like the Goliath of identity theft protections, while the other trumpets credit monitoring services as the answer to fraud worries and advises consumers to raise fraud alerts only if they suspect identity theft. All three credit report protections come with their benefits and drawbacks, including cost differences, convenience and prevention factors.

Ultimately, the usefulness of credit freezes, fraud alerts or credit monitoring depends on the consumer. Some people want an alarm system, some need a gated community.

Presented below, according to category, the following stories should help illuminate the confusing world of fraud alerts, credit freezes and credit monitoring.

Readers' stories:

Create a news alert for "identity theft"
-- Posted: Nov. 13, 2006
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