Credit Monitoring & Fraud Protection Services
Our credit monitoring protection services are a safe, smart investment to guard against identity theft & fraud that threaten your credit score. Learn more!
What is Credit Protection?
Preserve credit health with credit protection services. Data breaches, identity theft, and fraud can happen to anyone. In fact, the Consumer Sentinel Network took in over 3.2 million reports in 2019. A scary stat that leads to even more frightening repercussions to the individual’s personal finances and credit score.
The best credit monitoring and protection services will monitor your consumer credit reports and credit files in order to track your applications for new credit, your payment history, and the amount of debt you have. These credit protection services will alert you if a company checks your credit history or if a new credit card account or loan is opened in your name.
Identity Theft & Your Credit Score
It can take months, sometimes even years, to clear your name after identity theft, not only that, it can cause major damage to your credit score, which can make it much more difficult to be approved by lenders for a federal or payday loan or a mortgage and increase your interest rates on credit cards.
Besides old-fashioned methods of identity theft such as stealing wallets, purses, and personnel records, identity thieves have created all sorts of innovative and creative ways to get your information.
Some of the more prominent ways your credit identity can be stolen include:
- Stuffing – creating false websites that look like commonly used websites in order to obtain login and other personal information
- Phishing – pretending to be financial institutions (your bank, PayPal, etc.) or well-known companies in order to get you to reveal your personal information
- Hacking – exploiting weakness in a computer system either easily through unsecured Wi-Fi networks (think coffee shops) or more elaborate breaches into semi-secured websites
Signs that your identity could be compromised:
- There are withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
- You stop getting bills or other mail. You get calls from debt collectors about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
Credit Card Fraud
The most common type of identity theft is credit card fraud. Identity thieves can steal credit card information in one of three ways.
Through transactions such as online purchases that don’t require a physical card, called ‘card-not-present’ fraud. Through an account takeover where they take control of a bank account or card number and make unauthorized transactions. Through using your personal identifying information to obtain a new card in your name.
One of the biggest issues with credit card fraud is that it happens quickly and painfully, with the identity thief running up credit balances and wringing out as much as they can before you even have a clue it’s happening.
Credit scores are determined by four main factors, when unknown fraud occurs you can take a hit on all four of these determinations, leading your score to drop hundreds of points before you’re even aware.
So how is your score determined and how can you lose points?
- Payment History - Your payment history is the biggest factor impacting your credit score. And, there’s a pretty good chance that the person who stole your card or obtained a new one in your name isn’t going to foot the bill either. A missed payment of at least 30 days could lead to up to 100 points taken off our score. Even if you report the fraudulent charge early it could take weeks for everything to straighten out again.
- Credit Utilization - Or your overall debt owed, is calculated by the ratio of your credit card balances to your credit limit, the bigger the debt the lower your score. Again, it’s very unlikely that an identity thief will care how much debt they're accumulating in your name.
- Length of Credit History - If you’ve had cards open for years and paid your bills on time this shows that you’re a responsible card owner, but if an identity thief opens up new lines of credit the average age of your credit accounts shorten, which can lead to a drop in your score.
- Credit Inquiries - When you apply to open a new line of credit, finance a car or a home, or rent an apartment, the creditor will typically perform a credit inquiry, if there are too many inquiries in a short period of time aka your fraudster opens up many credit cards under your name this will adversely impact your credit score.