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In the digital age, your credit is more than just a powerful financial tool. It can become a dangerous liability as well. You work so hard building up your credit score to only have it stolen away by fraudulent attempts to use your identity.
Since your credit is intimately attached to your personal identity, it’s critical that you protect yourself from a potential threat. Not only could a credit breach cause harm to your short term finances, but the work involved in repairing your credit reputation can be extensive.
Luckily for you, our financial experts have decades of experience in this category, and bring you their expertise in easy to understand language.
Check & Monitor Your Credit Score
The first step you can take is to find out your score and sign up for a credit monitoring service. This is the best way to stay on top of any suspicious or legit activity as it relates to your credit. Criminals can use your information (like social security number, date of birth, address, name, etc.) bought and sold on the dark web to open up accounts in your name.
Credit monitoring services will alert you if and when any fraudulent attempts occur. Then you can work quickly to resolve and avoid tarnishing your name. This may include freezing your credit, which makes it more difficult for thieves to apply for a credit card or use your name without your permission.
My family and I are signed up with LifeLock. I recently got an alert to my phone (via their app) that an AT&T wireless account had been opened in my name. I knew I hadn’t done this, so I was quickly able to call AT&T’s fraud department and have the account closed and flagged before the “opened” account was able to “activate.”
Time was of the essence. I could have waited for LifeLock’s professionals to take these steps for me, but typically they act as intermediaries, not to mention it was several days before they reached out to me, at which point the account could have been activated.
Following this incident, I got in touch with the three credit reporting bureaus and froze my reports. – Alex S., Safe Smart Living
When there is a freeze to your credit, any bank or lender that tries to pull your credit report for approval must first contact you directly and get verbal confirmation to approve the request. It’s an extra layer of protection that prevents hackers from doing harm against your will.
Learn more about credit monitoring services, including our experts’ recommended picks, along with pros, cons, and pricing.
How To Repair Your Credit
Unfortunately, it might be too late. If you suspect your identity has been compromised, there are a number of things you can do to try and fix the damage. Don’t panic.
Once you feel comfortable that your identity and personal information are secure again, check out our comprehensive credit repair guide to get your credit score back in order. Our experts outline four actions you can take and a step-by-step process.
Restoring your score might not happen overnight, but at the end of the day, the bureaus are understanding and realize that you shouldn’t be punished for any issues that were not caused by your doing.
Have you checked your credit lately or been a victim of credit fraud?
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