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Should You Sign Up for Credit Monitoring Services

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Credit card fraud continues to be a problem. A thief could either steal your card or your number and use it to purchase goods and services, ultimately leaving you with the bill. Other thieves will steal your entire identity and open new cards in your name.

To protect against fraud, some consumers sign up for credit monitoring services, which usually charge a fee. But is this the best use of your money? Below, we will look at different considerations.

Realize You Can Monitor Credit Yourself

You might think that the credit monitoring service is providing some super sophisticated service, such as scanning the “dark web” for your Social Security Number. In reality, you can do most credit monitoring yourself for free. For example, you can:

  • Get a free copy of your credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228. Check to see if anyone has opened credit lines in your name.
  • Check your current bank account every day online. You can see what money has been withdrawn and contact the bank if you see an unauthorized transaction, such as a debit card purchase you did not make.
  • Look at your credit card balances every day, or at least every few days. This will also show you if someone has made a purchase using your card.
  • Set up account alerts. For example, you can request an alert whenever someone makes a purchase over a certain dollar amount.

Once you notice an unauthorized transaction, notify your bank as soon as possible to report it.

Set Up a Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze

If you do the two steps above, you will stay on top of someone making use of a current credit line. But what about opening new credit accounts, which fraudsters sometimes do? To protect yourself, you can set up a fraud alert or credit freeze. Contact one of the three bureaus to set up a fraud alert. Contact all three to set up a freeze.

With a fraud alert, any lender who pulls your credit score will need to confirm your identity by calling a number. A fraud alert is free and lasts for a year. With a credit freeze, you limit who can actually see the report.

Gauge whether Checking Credit is Worth Your Time

If you don’t want to check your financial accounts every day, then hiring someone to do it can save you time. Of course, you’ll pay for credit monitoring, so take the cost into consideration. Some people are just too busy to do their own credit monitoring, so they want someone to help them.

Realize, however, that monitoring might not catch all fraudulent activity. A lot of credit monitoring services only check your credit score for changes and then send you an alert when it goes down. It’s up to you to figure out why.

Have You Been the Victim of Identity Theft? Consider Bankruptcy

Cleaning up identity theft or credit card fraud can be a nightmare, especially if you did not catch it quickly. For many people, filing for bankruptcy might be the only way to truly get rid of debts. If you would like more information, speak to a Plantation bankruptcy lawyer at Nowack & Olson today, 888-813-4737. We offer a free consultation.

Resources:

consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/09/free-credit-freezes-are-here

ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/get-my-free-credit-report

https://www.floridabankruptcynow.com/top-sources-of-financial-stress-and-how-to-deal-with-them/

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