Fraud can seriously injure your credit. As in life, an injury can require little treatment, or it can require major surgery. Just as you can take steps to protect your body from harm with proper training, clothing, and equipment, you can take steps to protect your credit from fraudulent activity. Identity thieves sleep light. Their goal is to steal identities with names, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.
Consider the following statistics from the Bureau of Justice in 2013:
- Among people age 16 or older, about seven percent fell victim to identity theft in 2012.
- The majority of identity theft instances, 85 percent, involved the victim’s credit card or bank account information.
- Over half of identity theft victims resolved their problems in a day or less. Where personal information was stolen, 29 percent of the victims spent a month or more resolving issues.
An Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) study reveals that one in 40 respondents had a child under the age of 18 who was a victim of identity fraud. Child identity theft can be particularly damaging because it can go undetected for years. The victim may only become aware when applying for a credit card or student loan. There is a solution! Fraud alerts and security freezes can help protect your credit and the future credit of your children, once their credit is established.
A fraud alert is a message placed on your credit report that notifies creditors to verify your identification whenever a credit extension is requested in your name. There are three types of fraud alerts:
- Active Military Duty Alert – This alert is specifically for military personnel to have in place while deployed. Credit protection is offered for a full year. Your name is removed from any preapproved credit card offers. Insurance prescreening is halted as well.
- Initial Fraud Alert – If you are a victim—or have concerns of becoming a victim—of identity fraud, this initial alert can offer protection for 90 days.
- Extended Fraud Alert – Identity theft victims are granted the option of extending an initial fraud alert. Protection is offered for seven years. In order to place an extended alert, you must first file a police report or other valid identity theft report.
A security freeze can greatly restrict access to your credit report by third parties, such as credit grantors. Potential new lenders cannot access your credit file unless you first lift the freeze. This provides an added insurance that identity thieves will likely be unable to open a fraudulent account in your name. Regulations for placing a freeze are different for each state.
Just keep in mind that a security freeze can still allow disclosure of your credit file to companies that you already to do business with, such as mortgage, credit card or cell phone companies. If you are working with a collection agency, they will have access to your credit file as well. The security freeze remains on your file until you decide to lift it.
Your identity is worth protecting. Take every precaution.
For more information or questions about this topic and to learn how to get started on having great credit contact Houston Credit Coach (281) 888-8457 or firstname.lastname@example.org where are slogan says it all “Saving money, is how we help.”