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Freeze credit, review credit reports weekly as thieves exploit COVID-19 pandemic

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Today, the FBI told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the number of fraud complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3) for the first 5 months of this 2020 is almost the same as for all of 2019.

Scammers and crime rings are tricking people out of hundreds of millions of dollars by exploiting the pandemic.

To quote the FBI's Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division, "These threats are pervasive and have become more frequent and sophisticated over time."

The Federal Trade Commission said it's seeing a rise in identity theft complaints.

"The numbers are very high, particularly in Washington state," said FTC Regional Director Chuck Harwood.

Freezing your credit is now a top recommendation.

"By freezing your credit report, you make it harder for anyone to use the information on that credit report, it'll make it hard for them to open new credit in your name," Harwood said.

But don't stop there. You can now check your credit for free once a week with each of the three major credit bureaus instead of getting a free report just once a year.

"During the pandemic the credit reporting agencies have loosened the rules further and said that consumers may check each of the credit reports, each week," Harwood said.

And with scam phone calls on the rise it's more crucial than ever to avoid answering your phone, if you don't recognize the caller ID.

If you absolutely must answer the phone it's important to hang up as soon as a stranger claims you owe money, claims there's a problem with an account, or wants any of your personal information.

It's also important to remember that when you freeze your credit the process is free, but you must contact each credit bureau individually.

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You can get a free credit report online from the three bureau every week through April of 2021, but only go through That's the official free report website authorized by the Federal Trade Commission.

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