So, you checked your credit score 5 years ago and were proud to see that it was excellent. You have been paying your bills on time since then and expect to have a favorable outcome when you apply for mortgage for a new home. But, did you know that by not taking time to monitor credit on a regular basis you may be putting those financial dreams at risk? What if a few years ago a dishonest employee at your doctor’s office used your social security number to open a credit card. You would have known this if you had been monitoring credit, but you weren’t so they maxed out the card then decided to do it again. Over the last few years they have caused your credit score to plummet and left you with mounds of debt and fraudulent accounts. Sometimes, social security numbers can be sold multiple times, so there can be several people doing damage and creating a big mess for you.
Your credit score is calculated with the information in your credit history as reported by lenders. That includes fraudulent accounts opened in your name. It is a safe assumption that when an identity thief opens an account in your name, they have no intention of paying it off, so it can be highly destructive to your credit score.
You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year, and should look for accounts that you don’t recognize or other inaccurate information. You can also enroll in a credit score monitoring service to be protected automatically. Find a credit monitor that checks your credit report from all three credit bureaus often. The best credit monitoring service will also monitor your public records and alert you to changes.
These services usually cost between $10 and $20 a month. You should be able to choose to receive your alerts by phone, text, or email. Your credit score is important to your financial well-being, and can be damaged by identity theft. Monitoring credit is one of the best defenses against this.