DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– The holiday season is full of holly and jolly celebrations until you fall victim to identity theft or credit scares! River Valley Credit Union’s Eric Ebbert joined Living Dayton on Monday encouraging residents to be on the lookout for shopping scams this holiday season.

Ebbert says one of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to enable fraud alerts and credit freezes. A fraud alert is just what it sounds like, an alert to businesses/lenders/creditors that they should verify your identity before issuing any credit. You can place a fraud alert on your credit report for one year at a time. If you still want the alert in place after it expires, you can renew it! With a fraud alert in place, your credit report is still visible to lenders. The most common use of fraud alerts is when you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft or fraud and want to protect yourself for a short period of time. You can enable fraud alerts by contacting one of the three credit bureaus!

Additionally, a credit freeze prevents  companies/lenders/creditors from accessing your credit report. That means scammers basically have no shot of opening an account with your info because lenders won’t approve credit without accessing a credit report first. Ebbert says there are no time limits on credit freezes and you can enable a credit freeze by contacting all three of the credit bureaus.

When it comes to picking between fraud alerts and credit freezes, it can be beneficial to use both. A fraud alert is most helpful if you have been/think you have been the victim of fraud. As for credit freezes, it’s basically a good idea at all times. Ebbert says it can be a bit of a headache to unfreeze your credit when applying for a loan or new credit card, but a freeze provides a high level of security.

For more information, click here or watch the video above!

***This segment is sponsored by River Valley Credit Union***