Using your credit report to protect yourself from identity theft

Identity theft (when your details are used by fraudsters to open new credit accounts) and fraud are growing concerns with many individuals. No one is immune from identity theft and fraud, as even not-for-profit company Goodwill (who operate 2,900 stores in the United States) have been hacked, compromising their customers’ credit and debit card details. Every two minutes, someone falls victim to identity theft and fraud.

The repercussions of identity theft and fraud

If your identity is stolen, or fraudulent transactions are carried out then getting it sorted is both stressful and time consuming. Access to your accounts may be frozen, leaving you unable to pay your bills or make necessary purchases, such as food or fuel. Your creditors will need time to investigate fraud allegations, and you may find that it takes awhile for any money taken from your accounts to be returned. Fraudsters could also spend more than your available credit, leading to extra charges (that you will need to get refunded) and marks on your credit report. Any marks on your credit report may hinder your future credit applications, whether it be for something big such as your mortgage right down to a new mobile phone contract. It is important that you minimise the risk of identity theft and fraud to ensure that you do not find yourself rejected for credit in the future.

How your credit report helps

Your credit report contains details of your financial accounts, including current credit accounts, payment history and recent credit applications. By checking your credit report regularly, you will be able to spot anything awry and report any suspicious activity, such as new credit applications that you have not applied for. When you sign up for your credit report from Experian CreditExpert , they will send you an alert by email and SMS when there is a change on your credit report. This means that any fraudulent transactions will be flagged straight away.

Five tips for protecting yourself from identity theft:

Whilst keeping an eye on your credit report should alert you to any unusual activity, it is important that you also remain vigilant against identity theft and fraud. Here are five tips for protecting yourself from identity theft and fraud:

  1. Ensure your virus protection and malware software is up to date on your computer.
  2. Never click links in emails that look as though they are from your bank. Instead, log into your bank account online and check for any suspicious transactions. Alternatively you can ring you bank with your concerns – the number can be found on your statements or it is often on the back of your card.
  3. Never give out your PIN – your bank will never ask you to provide this.
  4. Shred anything that contains your full name, address and financial details before disposing.
  5. Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements and query any suspicious transactions with your bank or credit card provider.

These tips, as well as remaining vigilant and checking your credit report regularly will help you to minimise the risk of you becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.

Categories: Credit Cards

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August 27, 2014 Using your credit report to protect yourself from identity theft