Why checking your credit score isn’t enough to protect your identity

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It can be a big mistake to just check your credit score and not look deeper.

Most important points

  • Your credit score plays a very important role in your financial life.
  • You should check your credit regularly so that you know what your score is.
  • You should also go beyond just checking your credit score and dig deeper into your credit report.

It is important to check your credit score regularly. Your credit score is an important financial measure that lenders look at when determining whether to give you a loan. Other people use your credit score to determine if you will be trustworthy and responsible as well, including landlords and utilities and even your auto insurer.

But while you want to keep your score regularly, it’s not enough to fight identity theft. In addition to looking at your credit score, you’ll also want to take a closer look at your credit report.

Why is checking your credit report so important?

Checking your credit report, along with your score, is very important because you can spot early signs of identity theft and take action before major problems start.

When you check your credit report, you get a lot of information that isn’t necessarily perfectly reflected in your credit score right away. For example, you can see:

  • Whether there are unknown addresses in your report: This could be an indication that someone has obtained your personal information and used a different address to apply for credit or to forward the accounts of a personal loan that they have taken out illegally in your name.
  • Whether there are questions that you do not recognize in your credit report: When you apply for credit, your credit history is examined and it remains there for two years. If there are questions about your report that you don’t recognize, it is an important indicator of identity theft as it means someone is using your information to apply for credit.
  • Whether there are unknown names on your credit record: If someone used your Social Security number to apply for credit, but didn’t spell your name perfectly, it may also appear as an alternate name in your credit history. This is also a red flag that something has gone wrong.
  • Whether there are judgments against you: If the credit has been taken out in your name and the bills have not been paid, creditors may have taken legal action to collect. This will be shown on your credit statement.

By recognizing these major red flags, you can be notified as soon as possible that identity theft has occurred.

What to do if you see signs of identity theft?

If you notice information in your credit report that is cause for concern, there are a few important steps you should take to protect yourself.

First of all, it’s a good idea to freeze your credit. You can do this by contacting any of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). By freezing your credit, you make it impossible for anyone to open credit in your name without a special PIN that is only available to you.

If there are any accounts in your credit history that you don’t recognize, you will also want to dispute the information on your credit record and report the identity theft to the police and the FTC.

By taking these steps, you can limit the damage that identity theft can cause and avoid financial losses. Acting quickly makes it much easier to respond to identity theft, so check your annualCreditReport.com credit report regularly to make sure you spot problems right away.

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