As our community inches toward recovery and reopening please take time this week to make sure your credit is also ready for what’s ahead. Checking your credit is one of best ways to make sure your identity is protected. Scammers and thieves are taking advantage of people looking for financial relief and they are constantly coming up with new ways to play into your emotions.
Even when there wasn’t a pandemic, fraud reports were up 30% in 2019.
For a look at past week’s stay-home safety tips for your home and your family click on the links below.
Why should you check your credit?
Thieves can steal our personal identification information in many ways, from phishing emails to data breaches. With that information, they can do a lot of damage to our finances and credit, from opening bank and credit accounts to turning on utilities to obtaining medical procedures. This criminal activity can go undetected for years and may only surface after being contacted by debit collection companies or worse when we are denied for loan, possibly even a home. The best way to catch this is to run your credit report at a minimum of yearly.
How to check your credit.
- Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- On the website, click the red box that says “Request your free credit reports” and follow the instructions.
- This link goes through the three credit bureaus so you will be required to provide sensitive information, such as your social security number.
- Review the reports and look for any open and closed accounts you don’t recognize.
- Starting April 20 and running through April 2021, all three credit bureaus are allowing you to run your credit reports for free through annualcreditreport.com.
- Any other year, you are allowed to pull a free credit report through each of the three credit bureaus yearly.
Other Tips to consider for protecting your credit.
- Place a freeze on your credit reports. This takes a little work through each of the credit bureaus but will help protect you from others opening accounts in your name. If you need to apply for a line of credit or a loan, there is a simple process to unfreeze it.
- To contact each credit bureau, use the links or phone numbers below.
- https://www.equifax.com 888-548-7878
- https://www.experian.com/ 888-397-3742
- https://www.transunion.com/ 833-395-6938
- Protect your kids by freezing their credit too. This is a little more paperwork to fill out but will prevent an unauthorized account from being opened in their name.
- In addition to monitoring your credit we encourage you to sign up for mobile alerts for your bank accounts and debit/credit cards. The alerts notify you of transfers and purchases to help catch fraudulent account activity quickly. One of our crime prevention employees recently stopped a transaction on her personal account for about $1500 at a Walmart in Missouri.