Go check your credit report

By | October 13, 2015
Or maybe it's a flute. He's a sensitive soul.

I don’t know what an identity thief would use the crowbar for.

I check one of my credit reports every four months to make sure my financial avatar hasn’t developed walking pneumonia. I worry about someone stealing my identity and since it happens to almost ten million people a year and data breaches are pretty much constant, I consider this anxiety justified. Happily, I can ease the unease FREE!

The FCRA requires that each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) provide me a peek at the credit report they have on file for me once a year. Twelve months in a year divided by three credit agencies means I schedule this exciting activity once every four months.

If the universe deems you worthy, this checkup will take five minutes.

  1. Go to annualcreditreport.com.
  2. Pick one of the three agencies. Today was TransUnion for me.
  3. Answer some questions hopefully only you would know.
  4. Scan the report to see if there are any accounts you don’t recognize. Since I do this often, I just checked the “date opened” on each account to make sure nothing was opened in the past year.
  5. Rejoice.*
  6. Put a calendar notification for one year from today to “Check TransUnion” (or whatever agency you picked).
  7. Live your life for the next 12 months
  8. Receive a “Check TransUnion” email from your Google calendar
  9. Wait another month because you can’t be bothered**
  10. Tell yourself it will only take five minutes and then you can blog about it***
  11. Go back to step 1.

*Your step five may differ if this is when you realize that the burglar pictured above stole your identity. The good news is that you caught it and now you can start nursing your avatar back to health. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to clean up the mess.

**Your step nine may differ if you don’t tend towards laziness.

***Your step ten may differ if you don’t blog.

7 thoughts on “Go check your credit report

  1. Sheila

    The identity thief uses a crowbar to break into your mailbox and steal your mail. True story, it’s happened to me! Not only did they steal my new credit card but they stole my mailbox too. The one thing I learned from having my identity stolen is to keep three things private: 1. your address 2. your birthday 3. social security number

    Reply
  2. Dani

    Thank you for the tip. I will look into it. What are some other steps do you take in preventing ID theft, such as safeguard passwords, etc.?

    Reply
    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Additional tips:
      1) Give out a fake birthday if possible (e.g. for entering contests or promotional deals, etc.)
      2) Guard your social security number fervently
      3) Use long passwords
      4) Use different passwords for sensitive websites
      5) Use two-step verification if available

      Unfortunately, a lot of the time it’s out of your hands. Check your credit report often is my best advice.

      Reply
  3. lostformars

    If you’ve ever listened to Clark Howard you know that the best protection against anyone opening an account, loan, etc. as you is a credit freeze. Once your credit is frozen even if someone gets all of your personally identifying information (SSN, DOB, Addresses, etc.) they still will not be able to impersonate you for anything that requires a credit check.

    http://www.clarkhoward.com/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide

    You can also sign up for http://www.creditkarma.com to track your credit report. The score that they list is not exactly the same as what you would receive from the credit agencies but I do not think the free report includes the credit score anyway. You should sign up with creditkarma before freezing your credit. Then they will continue to have access to your report. This site will help you understand what in your report is bringing your score down and can email you whenever something happens that affects your score (new account, credit inquiry, etc.)

    Reply

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