Credit Monitoring
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Credit Monitoring

Check your credit periodically for changes ...

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For people who want more than just the free copies of their credit reports, there are paid services called credit monitoring. You pay anywhere from $5 to $40 a month, and a credit bureau (or outside company) tells you when there have been changes made to your credit report.

The less expensive programs check your credit periodically for changes - weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The more expensive programs notify you within 24 hours of any change to your credit report and even offer insurance policies against identity theft (be sure to read the fine print on these policies).

Credit monitoring is a good idea for people who frequently apply for loans or other lines of credit. As a rule, the more often you give out your social security number, the higher your risk of identity fraud. Also, when you have a large number of creditors, there are more companies making reports and the risk of reporting errors increases.

Credit monitoring is ideal for people who have had problems with identity theft or suspect there might be a problem. If your wallet is stolen, your house is robbed, or you do business with a company whose records were compromised, you should consider credit monitoring. While it won’t prevent bad people from opening lines of credit in your name and assuming your identity, it will alert you much sooner than simply receiving your free annual report. Be sure to use a credit monitoring service that monitors all three major credit bureaus.

A new alternative to credit monitoring available in about half of the US is credit freezing. In some states, you have the ability to actually freeze your credit. It limits access to your credit report and prevents anyone from opening lines of credit in your name. This is an excellent option for people who have recently exposed their identity information or for people who rarely get new credit cards or loans. In most of the participating states, your account is frozen until you request that it is unfrozen. That way, if you decide you want to apply for a loan or credit card, you are still able.

Credit monitoring or freezing your credit are measures that will help you keep your credit report free of errors or fraudulent reports. You shouldn’t rely solely upon these tools. You have to be very careful of how you protect your financial information. Identity thieves will go through your trash, impersonate your bank, go through your mailbox, and even impersonate different companies in emails.

  • You should shred any sensitive documents like credit card applications and bank and credit card statements
  • Any financial records you keep in your home should be in a safe
  • Never give sensitive information to anyone who calls or emails you
  • Have the post office hold your mail when you go on vacation

A few extra precautions can help reduce your need for credit monitoring or credit freezing.

From: Understanding credit and credit cards (don)
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