Posts Tagged ‘Credit monitoring’
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.
There is one main advantage of seeking a free credit report. This would be to spot cases of identity theft early. An additional benefit would be to spot errors right away and to have them fixed.
Countless stories have probably been told by now telling the advantages of a free credit report. However, this one seems to stand out the most:
It is the one about Sylvia Gallow-Vazquez that has circulated the web the past few years. It tells how she applied for a Discover card and then was turned down. She wondered through all of this how such a thing could be possible, because her credit rating was considered to be “impeccable.”
Now, learning of all kinds of unauthorized transactions and identity theft is never fun. This could appear on your credit report all too often. This is what happened to Gallow-Vazquez.
She obtained copies of her credit report after being denied a Discover Card. This is when she first learned she was defrauded.
It was no fun to find out that that her name was used against her for utility services as well as for car and home loan applications. It was also no fun for her to find out she had a two years worth of additional unauthorized transactions such as Internet and phone services affecting her credit report.
However, it is probably safe to say that Sylvia Gallow-Vazquez was quite relieved to find this out when she did. If she had never gained access to her credit report she would have never known so she is glad she did.
Finding negative remarks on her bill was the first step towards change. The next step would be to place alerts on the files and the earlier identity theft is detected the better.
In the case of Sylvia Gallow-Vazquez and similar situations it can take quite awhile to have all these negative marks removed. However, it never is too late to fix your situation.
A credit bureau can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. They provide information to individuals and businesses as well as banks, landlords, employers, and other institutions.
This is a list of some of the reasons that a credit bureau exists:
- It helps monitor a person’s financial history. This is part of what determines a person’s creditworthiness. This is one of the first steps towards getting a loan-examination of a person’s credit report and credit bureaus hold this information.
- Another purpose of a credit bureau is to verify the existence of a credit or loan applicant. This helps store owners, banks, and even colleges and employers know that they are dealing with who they are dealing with.
- Credit bureaus help combat identity theft. Often alerts are placed on credit reports to help prevent further unauthorized action. Certain portions of a credit report may be blocked when this happens. In other words, one role of a credit bureau is to protect consumers.
- Organizations such as Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian are also around for another reason. These organizations prevent creditors from trusting in people who are not responsible with money.
- Another reason that credit bureaus exist is for recording-keeping. These organizations keep track of all your spending as well as all your major purchases and other inquiries. They also keep track of your financial obligations and how timely you make your payments.
- Another reason that organizations such as the ones mentioned in this article exist is to help repair your financial history. Being able to improve your credit history is one incentive to make better financial decisions.
Using your Credit Report
Often people seek a free credit report to help them come to terms with changes that need to be made. They also do it to make sure there is no activity that counts against them that has resulted from charges they did not authorize.
Correcting inaccurate information on your credit report can help you immensely. The first step would be to check the expiration date of the records.
Then, you can create a dispute letter and send it to all three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Before you do so, you probably will need to take other steps to analyze your credit though as indicated in the following steps:
- Order your free credit reports from all three bureaus, of which you are entitled one copy per year. Print each out and review it carefully.
- If you spot any information while reviewing printouts of your credit report spot any inaccurate information that could have an effect on you. You should be particularly concerned if it causes a decline of your credit score.
- Documents you can use while you examine the accuracy of your credit report include as follows: Bankruptcy filing records (items marked “BK” for up to seven years), charge-off notes (notes indicating creditor has wrote off your debt as a loss), and collection records (usually remains on your record for up to 7 years after the last 180 day late payment).
- You can also take a look at closed accounts. These expire after 7 years as well. Closed positive accounts might remain on your record for longer.
- Foreclosed accounts, inquiries, judgments, late payments, repossessions, and tax liens, also affect your credit. You should take a look at any records concerning these very carefully.
- Once you have examined all your records carefully, this is when you would possibly file a dispute. You can submit your dispute to Equifax and TransUnion by mail, and you can do the same but only online instead of mail when using Experian.
- Once your dispute is submitted, then you can let the credit bureaus investigate. You can track these results, as all three financial bureaus have a responsibility to investigate claims made by you within 30 days.
Most people are used to getting charged for everything that they are surprised when they hear that you can actually get a free credit report. This is mainly because of recent legislation passed that allows you one report every 12 months from all three credit bureaus.
There is one site for sure where you can get free credit reports. This is called Annual Credit Report.com. Here is where U.S. citizens can obtain one disclosure of their financial records every 12 months from these three agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
You can also seek information at this website as well as at the Federal Trade Commission website on how to report fraud. There is a such thing as an initial fraud alert which stays on your credit report for at least 90 days, and the extended alert lasts up to seven years.
There are numerous other sites that claim to offer free credit reports. However, most of these are seven-day free trials with very ambiguous terms of services and cancellation policies. There are some exceptions of course.
Beware also that you should not have to pay to put a fraud alert on your file. If you are for some reason being required to do so, you are being ripped off. Beware of this according to your federal rights.
If you want to learn more about your rights as a consumer you can read the This info about the Fair Credit Report Act or you can visit the Federal Trade Comission website.
Before you sign up to receive paid credit monitoring services you should make sure you are not paying for services you could get for free. After all, you are entitled up to two free credit reports a year from all three credit bureaus (depending upon the situation).
If you have any doubt about your consumer rights according to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA), take a look at this documentation. Your rights and responsibilities are spelled out here. A great place to find this documentation is at the Federal Trade Commission website.
If you are seeking monitoring services for which you may have to pay here is a short guideline to help you along the way. Please view these tips:
- Choose a website that has a clear cancellation policy. Also, before you sign up make sure you read all the terms and services as specified.
- If you can, make sure you are receiving monitoring services you cannot otherwise get for free. It would take a careful study of federal guidelines to be sure, but you can use your best judgment. If you are not sure what your rights are you can take a look at the Fair Credit Report Act documentation.
- Make sure you know whether or not you are going to receive the credit score given out by FICO or whether or it is from some other obscure organization. The FICO one is most reliable.
- Find out who owns the companies who charge for credit reports. This should give you some idea as to whether or not the services are necessary-so necessary you would be willing to invest money.
- Make sure the site you use is secure. One way to know is if you see signs that it is verified. You can also read its privacy or security policy.
This is a general article with tips for people related to all aspects of online shopping. Part of this includes the safe retrieve of credit reports instantly, as well as protecting your identity while you shop online.
Basic online shopping tips for consumers include the following:
- If you do not want to reveal your financial information such as bank account numbers or major credit card account there are ways to shop without it. For instance, some people shop with temporary gift cards or debit cards that have on it only a limited amount of money.
- If you are going to check your credit report online be careful which portal you use. It is very easy to get free credit reports these days but it also is very easy to get your identity stolen. There have been some fraudulent sites posing as “free credit report” services so watch out.
- You can find a legitimate way to keep tabs on your credit at all time. This is important in the event someone may somehow have stolen some of your financial information and personal records. Keeping track of your credit history can make you instantly aware of any unauthorized activity.
- Obtaining a free credit report or monitoring your financial records on a regular basis can save you quite a bit of headache. For one it will protect you in the event you later try to apply for a home or car loan or if you want to acquire postpaid telephone service.
- While you shop online and make decisions that may possibly be recorded on your credit report understand your rights and responsibilities. When you apply online for loans and other financial assistance make sure you do so on safe sites and study the application terms and conditions.
- It is important that you understand your Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) rights and responsibilities. This set of consumer guidelines tells you how to handle potential fraudulent activity that takes place on your account.
- Remember that according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act you are able to receive up to two credit reports a year (12 months). Usually you get one a year for initial alerts and two a year for extended alerts.
- You are reminded that not all credit reports online are entirely free. Some of them are offered on a trial basis for which you may eventually have to pay. The payment usually comes when you want to continue receiving alerts when there has been chances made in your records.
Identity theft is a serious matter and regular monitoring by way of a free credit report is one way to combat this problem. The frequently asked questions covered here will educate you more on how to use a free credit report and will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as indicated by the Fair Crediting Report Act (FCRA).
What is identify theft?
This may seem like a basic question, but since not everyone has been a consumer for very long they may need to really know what exactly is identity theft. This is the act of stealing someone’s photo I.D., birth certificate, social security number, credit card number, school records, driver’s license number, or even credit history in order to impersonate someone else.
Why would someone steal someone else’s identity?
Usually they may do it in order to obtain something they otherwise could not. For instance, someone might get into a school because they represent themselves by names on stolen school records. Someone may have obtained a car loan by using someone else’s social security number. The most common reason why people steal someone’s identity is to make online purchases.
How can theft of personal records be prevented?
Whenever possible, please make sure you shred all personal documents that might have vital information on it such as birth date, social security number, or driver’s license number on it. You can also have your financial history monitored by requesting a free credit report instantly online.
What is a fraud alert?
This is a procedure used to protect a person who has had their personal information stolen for some financial purpose. This lets the credit reporting agencies know that someone may be using your financial information without your permission.
How can I get a free credit report?
All you need to do is sign up with a service online that you can trust. You are allowed one copy of all three nationwide credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) if you have received an initial fraud alert. You can also receive additional copies (up to two per year) in case an extended alert is placed.
How many free credit reports am I allowed to have per year?
It depends upon how many fraud alerts you have on your file, or what type. For the initial fraud alert you are allowed one copy every 12 months, and then for the extended fraud alert you are going to be allowed two per every 12 months.