3 Ways To Protect Your Credit From Identity Thieves
Identity theft can harm your future by damaging your credit. If you make one resolution for 2021, commit to safeguarding your credit with these steps.
1. Create a Social Security account online.
It takes seconds to set up a secure account for managing the Social Security documents identity thieves seek. To get started, go to ssa.gov/myaccount. You’ll create a username and password, then verify your identity by providing a cell phone number or email address.
You can use your new account to view earnings records and estimates of future benefits. The account also makes it easy to request a replacement Social Security card, check the status of an application and more.
2. Freeze your credit report.
Most lenders check your credit report before authorizing a new mortgage, car loan or credit card. A freeze restricts access to this report, making it hard for identity thieves to open new credit accounts in your name. Be sure to freeze your report after you’ve created your Social Security account.
For maximum protection, freeze your report at each of the four credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis. You can do this through each bureau’s website. Freezing your report is free, and it can be unfrozen anytime — for example, to apply for a new loan.
3. Monitor your credit score.
If your credit score dips suddenly, fraud might be the culprit. That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on this number. Though some companies will charge you a fee to view this score, UW Credit Union supplies this information to its members for free.
“Our web branch provides access to your credit score, your full credit report and more, anytime and anywhere,” says Julie Walser, UW Credit Union’s loss prevention manager. “It’s an excellent way to watch for fraud red flags and learn what can raise or lower your score.”
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