Protect Your Credit

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there had been 864 data breaches that resulted in the compromise of 34,174,633 consumer records by August 31, 2018. This is strong evidence that there are increasing unauthorized threats to consumer credit and personal information.

What can you do to protect yourself from these threats? Start by understanding that your credit and personal data can be under attack from multiple sources such as lapses in data security from financial institutions, scammers, points of purchase, and even the credit bureaus themselves. Many of these data intrusions are beyond your control, but the more you practice basic data security, the better your chances are to minimize the risk.

Eliminate easy targets of opportunity by:
• Use a paper shredder before discarding documents containing personal information
• Properly discard pre-approved credit card offers received in the mail
• Keep all documents that have social security and account numbers away from public view
• Stop mail deliveries or have a neighbor retrieve your mail when you’re out of town

Another method of securing your credit is to lock your credit or to freeze your credit through all three major credit bureaus Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. Since the process may vary between the three bureaus, take time to learn what they offer and what’s best for you.

Consider using a secured, load as you go debit card that is not tied to your bank account for online shopping, gas stations purchases, etc. You could still have a breach, but these types of cards will limit any loss to the dollar amount you load on the card and not give access to other bank information. This is also a popular and more secure way for parents to transfer money to college students and a teen’s allowances.

You have worked hard to establish a strong credit profile. Make it a priority to keep it secure. Identity and credit fraud can be difficult to stop and may take long periods of time to correct once it’s underway.

Additional Resources:
CFPB – Free Credit Freezes are here
CFPB – What it means to put a credit freeze on your credit
CFPB – What to do if you are a victim of identity theft