The 4+ million current and former federal employees whose OPM personal data has been hacked are just the latest group to be worrying about identity theft.  So a recent article by Brian Krebs could not be more timely.  Mr. Krebs has written a terrific piece on the various options that individuals can take to try and prevent themselves from becoming identity theft victims.  While there are no guarantees about any option being foolproof, his recommendations are ones to learn about and then decide whether to use (www.krebsonsecurity.com; “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Security Freeze”; June 8th).

One of his key points is the difference between putting a “fraud alert” or a “security freeze” on credit reports.  A “security freeze” is the stronger tool since “freezing” a credit report means it can’t be viewed or pulled by potential creditors without the individual giving specific consent.  Is it free to do so?  That depends on 2 key factors: has the individual been an identity theft victim? and what are the requirements for the State in which the individual lives.  Some States require a $10.00 or more fee if the individual hasn’t been an identity theft victim.

A  link to a list of the States with their respective requirements can be found in Mr. Krebs’ article.  Additionally, that requirement will pop up when filling out a “freeze” form online with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Once an individual does so, the fee amount for the State in which the individual resides will come up.  These requests can also be done in writing and those details can be found on the website for the 3 credit agencies just mentioned.

It would be great if these “freezes” could be done for free before becoming an identity theft victim.  Is it worth the money to do so before that reality?  My answer is “yes” but everyone has to decide for himself.