Credit Monitoring – Your Guard to Identity Theft & Credit Scams
With the ever increasing crimes of credit card fraud and identity theft, comes the need for Consumers to learn more about protecting themselves. It is said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and nothing could be truer in a situation which has the potential of ruining your reputation as well as incurring huge financial losses for you. If you also own a business, you need to double up your protection; otherwise the damages could be the end of your entrepreneurial career.
One of the best ways to prevent identity theft is to establish a regular schedule of credit monitoring. ID thieves have a lot of tricks in their arsenal, all designed to steal your personal information. They can use this stolen information in a variety of ways, including opening new credit accounts under your name. So if you have already set up an accurate and steady method of monitoring your credit, this limits the possibilities of being held liable for any unauthorized transactions later on.
You should know that identity theft and credit card scams are often different from each other. One can become a victim of identity theft without having his or her credit accounts compromised. However, when a thief gets access to your personal information, one of the most common and fastest ways that he can make money out of that information is through your credit. This is the reason why ID theft and credit scams are often intertwined or are considered as similar crimes.
As a matter of fact, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that those who suspect identity theft or have had their personal or financial information stolen should immediately place a fraud alert on their credit report. The FTC also recommends getting a copy of your credit report periodically so that you can monitor your accounts and check for anomalies or any suspicious activity.
If you don’t step up and take charge of your credit protection, the next thing you might see is a huge line of creditors lining up outside your door. We’re going to share some useful tips that you can follow for a Do-it-Yourself credit check:
- Get your free credit report.
The Fair Trade Reporting Act (FCRA) was established and enforced by the FTC to help out consumers in securing an accurate representation of their current credit scores via these three companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Through the FCRA, you can acquire a copy of your credit report free of charge. However, this free copy is only available every 12 months.
- Check your information.
Once you obtain your credit report, you need to check the information contained in that report to make sure that everything on it is correct and up to date. Start by checking your personal information, such as name addresses, marital status, etc. and then move on to the details concerning your financials or accounts.
- Examine errors and new accounts.
Credit card owners should be extra vigilant of any discrepancies that might appear in the credit report. Sometimes, these errors come from any number of mistakes committed by the card holders themselves. However, your credit report might already contain signs of a swindler pulling a scam or ID thief operating. Aside from unauthorized purchases, look for new accounts that are listed in the file. Make sure that each and every one of them are accounts you opened yourself.
- Verify new inquiries.
Companies will usually pull up your current file to check if your credit score is up to par. This is standard procedure and entirely expected. What you should look out for are the inquiries that were made by individuals or companies that you don’t remember initiating. For example, if you see an inquiry made by “XYZ Company” last week, make sure that you are indeed doing business with that company.
Here is one thing to consider: There is no absolute guarantee that by following these steps, you will be 100% free and secure from ever becoming a victim of identity theft, or be able to prevent a credit scam from ever happening to you. Sometimes things will happen that are totally unexpected, even when you try your best to prepare for them.
However, taking action beforehand will reduce your risks of being another statistic, and if it indeed happens, then you will be able to catch on quickly and minimize your losses.