DENVER (KDVR) — National Consumer Protection Week just ended. During that week, consumer advocates stressed the importance of preventing identity theft.

Restoring credit can be a nightmare, victims routinely report.

“You have to go on the offensive to make sure that you’re protecting yourselves,” said Danny Katz, executive director of Colorado Public Interest Research Group.

Protecting yourself means freezing credit, Katz said everyone should freeze their credit. First, he said checking credit reports is important, people are guaranteed a free credit report each year.

“It will let you know has anyone been poking around and it hasn’t been you,” Katz said.

Katz told the Problem Solvers consumers need to contact the big three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, to freeze credit. Consumers can call or go online to accomplish this. Katz said people should not feel pressured to buy anything in the process of freezing credit. Consumers should have certain information handy like date of birth, address and Social Security number.

“It’s important to make sure that you’re on your toes,” Katz said.

With a freeze in place, an identity thief should not be able to open a line of credit.

Katz said consumers can quickly and easily unthaw a freeze when they want to open a new line of credit. To do that, go to the credit bureau website, or call, and use the PIN made to initiate the freeze. The unthawing process should take a few minutes.

Contact credit bureaus: