Protect Yourself with Credit Monitoring
Identity Theft Happens, Monitoring Your Credit Report Can Protect You from Fraud
It’s important to stay vigilant against identity theft, and that means regularly checking your credit report for any suspicious transactions to help you stay on top of any changes to your credit file.
Recent government data by the National Crime Victimization Survey/U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that 7% of U.S. adults 16 or older have been victims of identity theft.
Identity theft can be a time-consuming and costly hassle, but there are measures you can take to protect your personal information and avoid the headache. With fraud on the rise, many people have turned to credit monitoring as a safeguard against identity theft.
Credit monitoring services notify you of changes made to your credit reports so you can take action against potential misuse of your personal information.
Credit monitoring tracks the credit history shown on your credit report, then alerts you of changes via email, text, or phone. credit file.
Here’s what credit monitoring does do:
- Hard inquiries on your credit report, such as someone applying for credit in your name
- New accounts opened in your name
- Balances and payments on your credit products
- New address or name changes to your credit file
- Public records, such as bankruptcies
- Personal information on the dark web, such as your social security number, email address and passwords
Free Credit Score and Credit Monitoring in OUCU Online Banking!
OUCU has enhanced our online and mobile banking experience to feature SavvyMoney, a comprehensive credit score tool that provides free, unlimited access to your credit score with no hit or negative impact and credit report monitoring with real-time alerts.
SavvyMoney Credit Score monitors your credit and informs you by email if your credit score or report changes. You’ll just need to login to mobile or online banking and enroll in SavvyMoney to access the benefits.
Staying on Top of Your Credit has Never Been Easier!
As your financial wellness partner, we’re excited to provide this valuable benefit to our members. Taking control of your credit can lead to financial wellness, easier access to more credit, and lower interest rates that will save you money over time!
It may seem like credit monitoring services keep track of a lot, but these tools have their limits, these services can’t actually guarantee fraud prevention.
Is Credit Monitoring Enough to Keep Your Identity Safe?
While credit monitoring is a great tool to spot potential signs of fraud, it’s not a holistic approach to preventing identity theft or unauthorized transactions. At best, they keep you instantly informed so you can take action as you notice something is off.
Here are ways credit monitoring falls short.
What credit monitoring doesn’t do:
- Stop someone from applying for credit and opening new accounts in your name
- Keep your information safe from data breaches
- Prevent your credit card from being skimmed
- Tell you if someone withdraws money from your bank account
- Warn you if someone files a tax return in your name and collects your refund
- Stop phishing emails
- Report fraud
- Fix credit report errors
- Freeze your credit
“You can’t prevent yourself from being a target,” says John Ulzheimer, a credit expert and president of The Ulzheimer Group. “Everyone’s a target. It’s just a matter of reducing your exposure and making it more difficult for the fraudsters to be successful.”
An alert may be too late, but it can still be helpful. Credit monitoring services are reactive by nature. If you're alerted that someone has tried to use (or successfully used) your personal information, you're already a victim of identity theft.
Ways to protect yourself before something happens.
Unless you decide to live off the financial grid, you may not be able to completely protect yourself from large data breaches. But here are a few things you can do to help keep your personal information secure:
- Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet, and only carry other documents with sensitive information (such as a Medicare card) when you know you'll need them.
- Don't share your personal information if you receive an incoming call, even if the person claims to be from your bank or a government agency. Instead, tell the caller you will call them back and use the entity's actual number (which can usually be found on a bill, statement of account or website) to do so.
- Shred everything with personal information, including old bank statements, credit cards, and insurance forms before throwing it out.
- Safely and properly dispose of computers, mobile phones and other electronics that may have your personal information on them.
- Place fraud alerts or credit freezes on your reports to make it more difficult for someone else to open an account in your name.
- Install antivirus software on your computer and keep it up to date.
- Avoid logging into financial accounts while using public Wi-Fi networks, including those at cafes or airports.
- Set and regularly update your password for your phone and computer and use different, long passwords for your online accounts.
The Federal Trade Commission also has helpful articles and resources that you can explore to learn more about identity theft prevention and recovery.
Bottom line: At a minimum, having some form of free credit monitoring and being able to react right away can help limit the damage.
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