What is identity theft? How can it happen?
Identity theft is on the rise as last year more than 10 million Americans were victims that cost them roughly 5 billion. Identity theft happens when someone steals your name and other confidential information (social security number, bank information, birth date, address etc) with the intention of committing fraud.
Identity theft can happen in many ways. One common way identity theft can happen is if you don't shred disposed bank statements or any paper documents as thieves can usually get your personal information this way. Another way identify theft has increased, is with the advent of phishing scams. Phishing scams are when you receive emails that look like they are from your bank or financial institution asking you to click on a link that takes you to a site that looks like your bank or financial institution. DO NOT ever respond to these emails instead call your financial institution directly if they need action from you.
How can I prevent identity theft or detect it?
With identity theft increasing, it is important to protect your personal information by shredding your personal documents, and by being cautious when sharing your personal information. Furthermore, it is important to review your credit report frequently for errors and unauthorized activity. Remember that your credit report is very important because it determines your credit score. Your credit score is important because it determines your interest rate when obtaining an auto loan, mortgage or when you get a credit card. Also, if you plan a renting an apartment, or getting insurance, your credit score comes into play. Therefore, besides the recommendations above in protecting yourself from identity theft, one of the best ways to detect identity theft is by investing in credit monitoring.
What is credit monitoring?
Credit monitoring is a service by which the major credit agencies quickly inform you of any changes to your credit report. In other words, if someone commits fraud and opens up an account in your name (personal loan, credit card etc) you will be informed relatively quickly so you can take action to stop it fast. The three main credit reporting agencies that provide your credit report and determine your score are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Therefore, the best credit monitoring is when your credit report is monitored within all three credit agencies. Furthermore, it has been reported that 70% of credit reports have errors in them anyway, so monitoring and viewing your credit report regularly is a good idea.
What are the main benefits of credit monitoring?
There are many benefits to credit monitoring and there are a wide range of services offered by the credit reporting agencies. First, credit monitoring will allow you to quickly spot suspicious or fraudulent activity as you will receive alerts when your credit report has changed. Second, credit monitoring usually comes with fraud resolution services which are services to help you clean up your report once you have been a victim of identity theft. Third, many credit monitoring services come with identity theft insurance which covers the time and money needed to clean up your credit.
Here is a link to get started today monitoring your credit with Experian who can inexpensively provide you with credit monitoring from all three credit agencies, along with credit alert changes, identity theft insurance, real time access to your credit reports, and unmatched customer service.
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