A. Yes, you can piece together the features of the fee-charging ID Theft Protection program by yourself, free or with low cost -
Step 1. Freeze or Lock Credit Report
This prevents new lenders from viewing your reports, and it should block thieves from opening new credit accounts in your name. All the three major credit reporting agencies should allow you ot place or lift a freeze or lock free. Freeze has stronger legal protection.
Step 2. Monitor Your Report
Sign up Credit Karma which will show you your Equifax and TransUnion reports on a weekly basis and alert you to changes in those reports. If you are a Discover or Mastercard holders, you can sign up for free monitoring through them.
Step 3. Set Up Alerts
A credit freeze or lock won't stop a crook from fiddling with your existing credit card or financial accounts. So it is important to set up alerts to spot unusual activity in those accounts.
Step 4. Get Free Help
If you become a victim of ID fraud, you can browse recovery steps at the FTC's IdentityTheft.gov site and generate a tailored remediation plan and print sample dispute letters. Another resource is the Identity Theft Resource Center which posts guides to recovering from ID theft (including fixing problems that result from lost wallet and correcting misinformation on medical records), as well as links to state resources. Don't forget to ask your credit card issuers for help too.