People across the country will be setting a reminder for themselves next week to turn the clocks ahead so that they can enjoy a few extra hours of sunshine in the evenings now that spring is finally here. While you're going about setting reminders for yourself, you should also add checking your credit report to the spring-preparation checklist.
If you check your credit report now before summer comes about — an expensive time of year when you'll need good credit — you can scan your history for any damage that may be indicative of identity theft.
You can view three different reports for free
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was enacted by Congress in 1970 as an amendment to the Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968. Under the initiative, every year, the government requires that the three major consumer credit bureaus — TransUnion®, Experian® and Equifax® — provide Americans free copies of their credit reports upon request. If you aren't already, you should get in the habit of asking for all three credit reports each year, and review them for any surprises.
Identity theft is a continually growing problem
Identity theft is increasingly more common. Every year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have reported annual upticks in the incidence of this crime for the past decade. To top it all off, no demographic is safe — even young children who have never borrowed from a lender are finding themselves victims of identity theft.
The whole family should view their credit report
Be sure to look into investigating not only your credit report but that of all your family members going into this spring. The FTC recommends that individuals over age 16 look over their credit report every year — even if they have yet to build up credit of their own.
A great way to kick off spring is to invest in a credit monitoring program to help keep your mind at ease. If everything on your credit report appears to be in check, a credit monitor will keep an eye on it until next year and alert you to certain activity taking place in your name that may indicate potential identity theft or fraud. If you determine that these activities are the work of an identity thief, you can take proper steps to stop the criminal in their tracks.