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Identity theft happens once every three seconds. Learn how to protect yourself and your family.
Why Should I Actively Monitor My Credit?
Imagine that you're finally buying that big home entertainment system you've been eying, or want to put a down payment on a new set of furniture. However, when you pull out your credit card, it's suddenly declined, and you can't figure out why - until you get a notice about an overdue loan that you never took out. You've had your credit profile stolen, and a thief has used your personal information - your credit card number, Social Security number, and other critical information - to obtain goods or money using your name. It's a modern nightmare that can ruin your credit rating and make it nearly impossible for you to use your own money.
With a poor or bad credit score, businesses will not trust you to make payments on large items like mortgages or vehicles; when you can get a loan, the interest rates will be far higher than they should be. The consequences of having your credit ruined by a thief can ripple through your life for many years, and the damage can be very difficult to erase.
How can you protect your credit? First, it's very important to keep your personal information - such as your date of birth, driver's license number, credit card numbers, and Social Security number - safe and private. Do not share this information with anyone but trusted institutions, and keep track of where you have shared these numbers so that you can trace any misuse. There are also two main ways to track, prevent, and be aware of any suspicious use of your credit information: credit monitoring services and identity theft protection services.
Credit Monitoring Services
Credit monitoring services work on a very specific aspect of your financial information: your credit score. This is a vital piece of information used to rate how reliable you are when it comes to handling money. Lenders such as banks and credit card companies use your credit score to evaluate how risky it is to lend money to you, and how likely you are to pay them back on time. Unlike identity theft protection, credit monitoring services do not prevent identity fraud; they simply monitor changes in your credit score and keep you up to date so that you can take action if necessary. It's up to you to recognize fraudulent activity, but getting regular reports from these companies can help you ensure that you catch any suspicious activity early so that you can contact your bank or credit card company as soon as possible. If you report possible fraud early, you may be able to prevent any major damage and may not be held liable for nearly as much as if you're caught unaware.
Most credit monitoring programs offer services like the following:
- Always on credit activity notifications that alert you of changes 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Access to credit reports from the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion®, Experian®, and Equifax®)
- Access to your three credit scores from the major bureaus
- Daily monitoring of your credit reports (the credit bureau will vary)
- Alerts you when changes are made to your credit history, such as the addition of new accounts and delinquencies
- Free trials to start
- Some of these same credit monitoring companies also offer identity theft protection services and identity theft insurance
Identity Theft Protection Services
Identity theft protection companies can help you keep your information safe, and can help limit the damage done if you ever become a victim of fraud. Some of these services will even provide insurance to cover the damages, and even some form of guarantee in the event that your identity is stolen.
These companies monitor the common tactics that thieves use to pull off scams, such as changing your address or using your credit card for a series of large purchases. They will scan the Internet's black markets for any use of your information, hunt through national databases for suspicious activity, and let you know if anything pops up. They can also be very helpful in decreasing the number of junk mail listings or pre-approved credit offers that may include sensitive information about you. These lists are often compiled from information you give to legitimate companies when you purchase a product and provide your name and address; their data banks may be rented out to other businesses, which buy and sell personal information in bulk. The more your name and information is spread around, the higher the likelihood that it may end up in the wrong hands. Identity theft protection services can help remove you from these lists, which reduce the chances of fraud.
How Do You Protect Your Credit?
Don't wait until it's too late. Too many people fail to protect themselves from identity theft, even when it's easy to take the steps needed to keep track of your activity. Every year at least ten million Americans end up regretting their inaction - don't be one of them.
We don't want this to happen to you, so protect yourself, your household, and your financial future today. AmOne's financial search specialists work with you, at no charge, to match you with a trusted, highly rated provider for your unique situation. To get started, just complete our easy credit monitoring solution form or call us toll-free at 1-800-809-1107.