5 Common Sense Steps To Protect Your Credit Information

Recently over 143 million people had confidential information exposed through the hack of Equifax accounts.  Unfortunately, hackers, scam artists and high tech tricksters are always finding new methods of getting their hands on personal information they shouldn’t have.

Here are 5 ways to better protect your credit and confidential information.

Monitor all 3 credit bureaus. Equifax, TransUnion and Experian are all required by law to give you a free copy of their credit report on you each year.  Take advantage of it. There are other online sites like Credit Karma and FreeCreditReport.com that will as well. Remember to review the entire report, not just your score.  And don’t limit your reservations strictly to Equifax. If your personal information was stolen at Equifax, there’s a decent chance its impact could be reflected elsewhere.

Update your passwords and PINs regularly. This is another good habit to get into. Card skimmers and small cameras can be positioned to capture your information when you are making a public transaction or using an ATM. Change your security often and avoid selecting simple combinations that others can guess at.

Review your bank statements & bills carefully. Credit report vigilance can help you detect problem areas, but monthly evaluation of your bills and bank statements are likely to flag suspicious activity sooner. If something doesn’t look right to you, contact the retailer, credit card or bank right away.  Like you, they have a financial interest in making sure fraud is detected as quickly as possible.

Trust your judgement, NOT unsolicited offers or requests. Any time you are asked for personal information, resist the temptation.  Whether its by email, phone, or even a website that looks credible, if you didn’t initiate the communication, don’t volunteer any information that could be used to damage your credit. This includes clicking on web links or buttons. Sometimes this is all it takes to give scammers access to the information on your computer.

When in doubt, freeze your credit. All 3 major credit agencies offer a variation of this service for a nominal fee. It basically blocks access to your account from any credit inquiries, and can dramatically reduce the odds of someone else opening an account in your name.

For more detailed information on ways to protect yourself from identity theft, please review this blog post from Team Move Mortgage.