Archive for August, 2010
Identity theft is one of the most prevalent crimes in America today. Various types of identity theft production are operating to combat this, and identity insurance is often sought.
It may be challenging for you to decide what type of safeguard against identity theft you need. It may help to use a variety of protective measures and at the same time obtain identity theft insurance.
Identity Theft Protection
Insurance can be considered identity theft protection, but that will be described in its own separate category. Here we are going to mention a variety of services used for this purpose.
One of the most common protective measures is the use of various monitoring services. For instance, you can have automatic e-mail alerts sent to your file when there has been a change made to your credit report.
This can help you more quickly identity errors. You can also retrieve the free copy of your credit report to which you are entitled every 12 months, and you may want to check your credit score often.
Another way to prevent identity theft problems is to shred all personal paperwork and documents. This includes any and all personal information including junk mail. You should also not carry your Social Security Card or other cards with important data with you unless absolutely necessary.
Identity Theft Insurance
This is a fee you would usually pay per month in case that your identity is stolen. For instance, perhaps a policy might offer up to $1 million dollars in assistance.
This is all done in the event your identity is stolen. What this does is replace whatever financial loss you have had as a result of having your identity stolen. It would cover items such as a credit card balance, bank account, or even some quick loans.
Furthermore, keep an eye on all your credit card and bank card statements. Look for any unusual activity such as bank withdrawals and such.
Too often you hear the complaint that a credit monitoring service is billing whether the customer wants the service or not. This is a shame, and it is ironic that one of the reasons you want the service is to find and remove erroneous debt items on your report.
One common solution to this is to use a debit card rather than a credit card when you purchase a service. If a service continues to bill after you’ve finished with the service, you can always cancel the debit card.
Canceling a credit card can have a negative impact on your credit file though. Using a debit card saves you this headache.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Oftentimes credit monitoring services are considered an expensive waste of time. Oftentimes you can accomplish just as much towards fixing your credit on your own not spending any money.
On average, a credit monitoring service will cost about $10 per month, per report. It is true sometimes that can monitor your own credit report for less than the average cost of these services.
However, sometimes people like the peace of mind of hiring a professional service and/or online software to do this action for them. Besides, you may want to receive reports from all three agencies at once.
With many monitoring services all three reports are included, but you may be required to request all of them at once. At the very most it could cost you about $36 a month or $432 a year to do this, unless of course you receive discounted prices as mentioned above (approximately $10 per month).
Regardless of what you pay, what you would receive for that $432 per year varies. It depends upon the services that you choose. However, in general you can expect that you’ll be alerted if someone applies for new credit.
You also have the luxury of being told if something suspicious turns up on your credit report. Most monitoring services also come with identity theft insurance that will help you recuperate the costs necessary to repair any errors that occur.
You also have the option to use one of a variety of identity theft services. On the other hand, you can monitor your own credit report even for as low as $8 per report.
You may have to do a little bit more work when you monitor your own report. However, you can save some money.
On the other hand, many people find that the expense of a monitoring service is much easier. They would rather pay this extra fee than monitor their own credit reports.
Free credit report services are different than credit monitoring services. The free credit report is what you are entitled to by law. The credit monitoring services are different.
Every U.S. consumer is entitled to a free credit report by law. However, no one is required to receive a free copy of their credit score. You should remember this when trying to obtain the complementary files to which you are entitled.
It will clear up some confusion and help open your eyes so you are not misled. This is sometimes what happens when people are lured into so-called “free credit reports” or “free credit scores.”
On the other hand, you sometimes monitoring service could be beneficial to you personally. It can help you keep track of your files and it will help you beware of when people are stealing your identity to benefit them somehow.
Usage and Tips
Of course, receiving a free credit report is only half the battle. Knowing what to do with it when you get it and knowing what good it will do is also helpful.
Once you have the credit reports, you need to examine them very carefully. For instance, you should do the following:
- Look for duplicate accounts or accounts that belong to someone else.
- Keep an eye out for accounts which have exceeded the time frame for reporting.
- Find out about the statute of limitations of how long a debt can be reported.
- Make sure you learn how long a creditor can try to collect a debt.
- Once you have found the inaccurate and erroneous, use written correspondence to dispute it.
When examining your credit report you also may need some guidelines to help you dispute errors. You can adhere to the following tips:
- Be explicit and brief in your written correspondence about why the listings need to be deleted.
- May very well take writing a few letters and not just one to get results so to not give up.
- Be patient when in the disputing process. After a creditor receives your dispute that creditor is entitled to take time verify the accuracy of or error of a disputed item.
There are many ways to obtain a free credit report. They are issued by both companies who are following the law but also companies that run a scam. Therefore, you should be careful.
In any case, going through the steps of obtaining a free credit report is quite easy. It is an action highly recommended for anyone who wants to know where he/she stands in the eyes of creditors.
A number of people are still unsure about how to get a free credit report. The only three sources of an absolutely free credit report online are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
These bureaus will give you an overview of your credit including open credit accounts and account activity. They will clue you in to your probable score and safeguard you from someone opening new lines of credit in your name, but they won’t give you your three-digit credit score without charging an extra fee.
To get your actual numerical credit score, there are many online sources to choose from. Doing a simple Internet search or navigating to a site like freecreditreport.com. However, you have to be incredibly careful.
The reason why is often you are going to be lured into offers that later you realize is to pay for services you may not need. It is not to say that paid credit monitoring services are not useful, it is just that often you just may not need them.
Maybe all you really need is your credit report. If this is all you need then you may just want to go to the right place-Annual Credit Report.com.
This is a website that was set up by Equifax, Experian, and Transunion as well as the federal government. Here is where people can truly get a free credit report no strings attached.
This was an effort that was made after the U.S. Federal Government required that a free copy of a credit report be issued once a year to each American. This website was birth after realizing that vendors were starting to take advantage of consumers’ lack of knowledge.
When consumers first became entitled to free credit reports, vendors began selling them something that they do not understand or need. They would give consumers a free credit report.
However, it would almost always require those consumers to unnecessarily sign up for a seven day trial which they could have gotten for free anyway. Then, if the consumers not cancel within a certain trial period, they would be billed.
The objective of developing Annual Credit Report.com was to allow consumers to monitor their own credit report for free. To this day consumers turn to this site so they can avoid paying for services they may not want or need.
The other option for free credit reports would be to turn to one of the individual credit bureaus. Equifax, Experian, and Transunion offer these documents via their home websites.
Nowadays, credit card companies are seeking ways to reduce risk. This is so they do not have to pay out as much money as they did in the past. This information was true as of September 2009, but new laws have changed since then.
A revelation of this information can clue you in onto some of the changes made before February 20, 2010. For instance, credit card companies who want to reduce risk have used one of the following three tactics:
- Some consumers have been hit with lowered credit lines. The general rule of thumb was that they wanted to lower the lines of credit to below the outstanding balances of the consumer.
- Other credit card companies are seeking ways to raise interest rates. This was done as a way to try to push consumers into making payments.
- Other consumers who have locked-in interest rates saw rises in minimum payments. This has causes the minimum payments of people to double and triple in some cases.
Options for Consumers
Upon credit card companies starting to take one of the above actions against consumers, these companies did make some offers to consumers. For instance, they were able to opt out of an interest rate increase.
This was done by way of closing the account and continuing to pay off the debt a little at a time-at their own pace. This of course is another action that causes damage to a person’s credit scores.
Upon talking to a credit counselor, some consumers were advised to call and re-negotiate interest rates. Some people were successful and some were not. In any case, many of these consumers (as well as the ones whose minimum balances were hiked) were force to seek funding elsewhere.
Laws have changed in 2010. There are certain actions that credit card companies cannot take that they could not before, and some of these apply to the three actions described above.
In any case, the best action is to pay debt off as quickly as possible. Then, a consumer should try to re-configure the home budget so that temporary credit is no longer needed.