Why You Should Check and Monitor Your Credit Report

November 8, 2023

Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States occurring at a rate of once every 79 seconds. How is your creditThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that Identity Theft alone, accounted for over 42 percent of all frauds reported to federal authorities. Statistics show that the victims that suffer the most significant financial impact are those that the thief has opened new accounts in their name and that the theft had went undetected longer than 6 months.

There are known instances where an individual had been monitoring their credit report, noted suspicious activity and was able to put a kabash to the efforts of a criminal attempting to steal their identity.

With these things in mind, it is easy to understand why checking and monitoring your credit report should be an important part of your Identity Theft prevention strategy.

What to Monitor:

1. Verify that your personal information is correct. Check your name, address, marital status, and employment information. Make sure this information is accurate and note any discrepancies. For instance, if there is an address listed that you never lived at or an employer listed that you never were employed by-further follow up is necessary. Discrepancies such as these should be considered very suspicious. Also close any accounts that you no longer use.

2. Check that your monthly and default account information is accurate. Verify that each account listed is an account that you established and that there is no suspicious activity on the account. This is critical. Several victims have admitted that if they would have looked at their report more closely, they would have been tipped off that an identity thief was in their midst much earlier. A mistake that could prove to be very costly.

3. Review the inquiries on your credit report. Verify that those that have inquired to your credit file were the result of your activity, not the activity of an identity thief. This too, can tip you off that something is wrong.

4. Check your report often. It is essential that any suspicious activity be discovered early. Doing so can prevent the theft from actually occurring, or in the event that your identity is stolen, it can minimize the financial impact very significantly. I would recommend that you check your report quarterly. Remember, early detection is key.

Using A Monitoring Service or Doing It Yourself:

Deciding to monitor your credit reports yourself or have a commercial service do it for you is a matter of preference. You can do it yourself, but it does require some time on your part.

There are a variety of commercial services that, for a fee, will monitor your credit reports for activity and alert you to changes to your accounts. Prices and services vary widely. One of the ones I recommend is MyFico’s Credit Monitoring Service. It was one of the ways that I was able to raise my credit score by over 111 points in a little over 60 days.

Free FICO® Credit Score Estimator by MyFico

One advantage of a commercial service that I see, is that the monitoring is likely to be much more frequent than if you did it yourself.

If you’re considering signing up for a service, make sure you understand what you’re getting before you buy. Also check out the company with your local Better Business Bureau, consumer protection agency, and state Attorney General to see if they have any complaints on file.
Your Next Steps and Other Tips:

• If you see any discrepancies, follow up is key. Contact the appropriate consumer reporting agency. My article Consumer Reporting Agencies details the three agencies, their associated contact information, as well as how to get a report and how much it may cost.

• Ask the consumer reporting agency to remove your entire social security number from being displayed on your report, instead just showing the last four digits.

• Advise the consumer reporting agency that you would like to be removed from unsolicited offers.

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