Your credit report contains a plethora of your personal information, so why aren’t you keeping a close eye on yours? The three major credit bureaus gather information about how you deal with money, where you have lived, and other important details about your life. If the information contained is inaccurate, it can lead to you being unable to obtain financing, turned down for a job, denied an apartment, accused of crimes and other unpleasant things. Checking your report and signing up for credit monitoring services are important measures to take to protect your identity.
You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year. You should check for accounts that you don’t recognize, inquiries from companies that you don’t know, and any inaccuracies in your personal information.
Your yearly free credit reports are a good tool for beginning to monitor your credit score, but using them alone has a few problems:
- While you can stagger your 3 reports to receive them throughout the year, it still leaves you unprotected in the months between.
- Credit reports can be confusing to the untrained eye. Closed accounts stay on your report for several years, so seeing one that you have forgotten may cause an unnecessary panic. Also, there are more people than you may think who can generate inquiries (ie. landlords, employers, insurance companies, any government agency). Sifting through all the data can be overwhelming.
- If you do find errors, cleaning up your credit report without the assistance of services monitoring credit is a complicated process to do on your own.
If you want to find out about potential identity theft more quickly and with less work, consider a monitoring credit service. There are many available, so read the fine print and make sure that you choose one that monitors your credit from all three credit bureaus (some monitor only one) and that does so at least monthly. If there are new accounts or other changes to your credit report, services monitoring credit notify you and can help guide you through the process of having the fraudulent accounts removed.