How did we answer that? Identity Theft and Freezing Credit
We had a librarian reach out to us for guidance in helping their patron with a question. Their patron asked for assistance with freezing credit and the librarian was unsure where to direct them.
As we were working with the librarian and not the patron directly, we were unable to ask follow-up questions. However, from what the librarian sent us, there were two questions/directions for information and resources that we wanted to share. The first being how to find information about if there had been a breach/identity theft and the second being information on freezing credit.
There are many resources about determining if there has been a breach/identity theft. We provided the librarian with some starting point resources. Both Oregon and the US have consumer protection resources. Oregon Law Help has a page of resources about credit reports and identity theft. The federal government has a site on identity theft complete with a checklist of items to go through to check to see if you are a victim or if someone is trying to get information. Oregon Law Help also has a page of resources on Consumer Protection and Complaints.
We also provided some resources with commentary on freezing credit with when and why we would refer to different resources. I like to recommend the Federal Trade Commission’s site on freezing credit because it breaks down what to do, why to do it, and how to do it. Many credit resources will also discuss on to freeze/unfreeze credit as well (like Nerd Wallet, Credit Karma, etc. even the credit bureaus themselves like Equifax discuss this). When linking to a “how-to” I will go to a government source as historically there will be no up-selling or other agenda. Another government site with information is usa.gov but I don’t find their breakdown as easy to follow as the FTC, so tend to recommend FTC as a starting point.
When we answer questions from librarians it offers us a rare opportunity to explain some of our thinking or why we choose resources. One challenge we run into when talking with an intermediary is that we don’t know if resources we are providing are on the right path, so often we will provide a few items on multiple paths to get them started.