A while back, the credit bureaus started providing free credit reports to consumers (as required by law). At AnnualCreditReport.com, you can get a free report from each credit bureau every 12 months. That's three free reports each year.
Experts recommend checking your credit report on a regular basis to catch evidence of identity theft in the early stages (the more damage that's been done, the more work it will take to fix). So instead of getting three reports at once each year, it makes sense to spread out your three free reports over the course of a year and get one from each credit bureau every four months. While the information contained on each report differs slightly, monitoring reports more frequently should help you catch any illegal activity sooner than if you only checked once per year.
You should also check your insurance policies as some may include free or inexpensive riders for identity theft assistance. You can take advantage of these programs if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, or even if there is suspicious activity on your credit report. In fact, a few months ago, my husband and I spotted a suspicious inquiry on one of our credit reports, and took advantage of the rider on our homeowner's insurance policy to help us figure out what it was. It turned out to be innocuous, but since repairing your credit history after identity theft can be difficult, it's nice to know that there are experts in our corner if we ever need them!
Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Victor Habbick.