A great way to avoid identity theft or if you think someone has accessed personal information, is to freeze your credit. The credit bureaus allow for this, but the cost varies by state. From what I have read, the cost should be $40 or less. You can find details on the costs (and specific laws) for your state here.
When you freeze your credit, you are restricting third party access to your credit report. You will need to “unthaw” your report for others to gain access (and you will need a PIN number assigned to gain access yourself). A basic breakdown of the advantages of freezing credit are as follows:
-If someone has accessed your social security number and/or other personal information, a new account will not be able to be opened in your name.
-Keeps those marketing for pre-qualification from pulling your credit information.
-Handy in a divorce situation-ex-spouse cannot apply for credit in your name
-Can be “unthawed” with the PIN if you need to apply for credit (allow a few business days)
It is important to note that a credit freeze does not completely keep you protected from identity theft. However, it is an important piece of protection.