Why should I protect my credit reports and scores from fraud?
Identity theft and credit fraud are two of the most prevalent crimes today. They can put your finances at risk, stripping power away from you while criminals benefit by using your personal and financial information for their own gain. Credit monitoring helps you stay strong against them by helping you stay aware of what's going on with your credit.
How can credit monitoring help me?
Let's say your personal information was exposed in a data breach. Maybe you think one of your accounts may have been compromised, or you just want an extra level of fraud protection to help prevent any financial damage from occurring. Credit monitoring can help you discover fraudulent activity occurring that may occur in your accounts. It provides you with the time, date and often the location of an unauthorized credit action, which enables you to inform the appropriate authorities and agencies quickly about the incident.
And while you may think of credit monitoring as a service that is most useful to identity theft victims, take note: It also effectively serves as a preemptive layer of fraud protection for your everyday financial activities. Not only can credit monitoring be an effective way for you to stay abreast of the details in your credit reports and scores, occasionally your credit monitoring service may help you catch identity theft early.
What should I do if I notice a fraudulent incident on my accounts?
First, it might help to understand how fraud happens because there are many ways that exposure of personal information can occur. For example, it may happen as a result of a wide-scale hacker attack, a mistake by a company employee or a personal error, such as sharing too much information on a social networking site. When this kind of exposure occurs, it can lead to fraud.
After an incident occurs, you may be advised by a financial expert to enroll in credit monitoring; or sometimes, if a company you do business with experiences a data breach, it will provide free credit monitoring for a year or more to individuals affected by it. Additionally, you may be advised to review your credit report from each of three major credit bureaus. Take their advice and get the monitoring so that you can keep track of any potential signs of fraud in your accounts.
Besides fraud, what else can credit monitoring do for me?
In addition to providing fraud protection, credit monitoring may also be a useful way for you to track your account payment activity. Plus, you may be able to keep an eye on the various payments you are responsible for, as well as verification from the lender that each of your bills was paid off in a timely manner.
Moreover, credit monitoring may also be a useful tool if you are applying for a mortgage or a new job, as it can help you stay alert to information found on your credit report, which may be affecting your good credit score*.