Identity theft is an issue that is gaining in prominence in countries around the world. As criminals find inventive ways of hacking sensitive personal information online, it becomes increasingly important to monitor your credit. Identity theft involves theft of personal sensitive information such as credit cards, Social Security numbers, identity numbers, driver’s licenses, passports, important documents, and the like. Criminals use this information to reroute tax refunds into accounts they control, or they simply open up new accounts using stolen data which they have access to. The problem with identity theft is that it is difficult to control once it has taken place. Sometimes, irreparable damage can be done and credit scores can be ruined.
Resources for Monitoring Credit Scores
In 2012, the CSN (Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network) reported 2 million+ complaints related to identity theft. This huge number is growing by the year, as criminals become smarter at stealing sensitive information from their hapless victims. Credit monitoring services have become the most effective means of staying abreast of any developments in your personal credit profile. By actively reviewing all aspects of your credit report, you can easily pick up on any anomalies, report them and take the necessary steps to remedy credit-related problems.
All people in the US have complimentary access to a credit report from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies every year. These include TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. By law, these credit reporting agencies are duty-bound to provide a full credit transcript to you upon request, once a year. This information can be used to check for anomalies in your credit report, and make the necessary adjustments. Many credit card companies also offer weekly updates on credit scores for their clients. These value-added services are typically provided by just one of the credit reporting agencies, but they serve as a barometer of the overall health of your credit score.
Voluntary and Involuntary Credit Checks
For the most part, credit reports typically contain limited information. This includes things like court judgments, bankruptcy filings, liens, child support and the like. This financial information is what is found on your credit report. Other information such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, title deeds to property and official licensing are part of a public record. Provided this information is all accurate and up-to-date, you can safely assume that your personal data has not been tampered with.
Credit inquiries are one way that your credit score will be affected. There are two types of credit inquiries: voluntary and involuntary. An involuntary credit inquiry is one that is conducted without your consent by a credit provider. Your credit score will not be impacted by these types of inquiries. However, if you give consent for your credit score to be checked, your credit score will be impacted.
Effective Credit Monitoring
Credit monitoring services perform many functions for clients. Foremost among them is the automatic monitoring of all aspects of your credit. This includes things like checking for changes on your credit report (accounts closed, accounts opened, credit applications, credit used to available credit ratios, missed payments etc.). Credit monitoring services provide a comprehensive function to clients who may not know what to look for when checking a credit score for changes. Most people simply don’t have the time, or the patience, to watch for changes in a credit profile.
Credible credit monitoring services can monitor the credit score for changes the minute they take place. They do this with complex algorithms that are designed to safeguard the identity of the user, monitor for any anomalies in a credit profile, and report back immediately via mobile phone, and/or email. The minute unauthorized changes have been made, it is imperative that the credit issuer be notified and the accounts canceled. These are but a few of the important steps that clients can take to protect the integrity of the accounts from third-party interception.