There has been a lot of media attention given lately to identity theft and the possibility of credit card fraud, and rightfully so. Credit fraud is a genuine threat and one that could have severe consequences on your life. It could seriously damage your credit score and leave you with thousands of dollars of debt that you didn’t accrue.
Let’s go over everything you need to know about credit monitoring services so you can decide how to best protect your identity.
What Are Credit Monitoring Services and How Do They Work?
Credit monitoring services are able to monitor your credit card history and can keep an eye on all of the activity that happens on your card. If anything suspicious comes up, the service provider will notify you, helping stop theft before it happens or before it can cause too much serious damage. You can choose to get notifications on a regular basis (daily, weekly, or monthly) or whenever something unusual happens regarding your credit report.
So how do these services work? There are a number of factors that monitoring services carefully watch to maintain a comprehensive understanding as to whether you’re a victim or not. One of the things they do is monitor activity that is related to your credit cards. Some of the activities they keep an eye on are:
- New cards/accounts: If a new card or account is opened using your identity, you’ll get notified.
- Address changes: If the address that is linked to your credit card has been changed, the monitoring service will let you know. This is a trick that fraudsters use to redirect mail to their personal addresses.
- New “hard inquiries” on your credit report: A hard inquiry takes place anytime a lender or credit card provider performs a check on your credit report. If a hard inquiry is performed on your credit report, you’ll know right away.
The best credit monitoring services will immediately notify you if one of the above activities takes place. If you initiated them yourself, no sweat. If not, you need to immediately take action and assume you have become the victim of credit card fraud.
Why You May Need Credit Monitoring
Believe it or not, credit card fraud is a very real threat. A study by the Pew Research Center found that 18% of adults in the United States had some form of personal data stolen in 2014. That’s an 11% increase from the year before. A separate study by Javelin Strategy showed that around 13 million people experienced some sort of identity fraud in 2015 and experts anticipate the trend to get worse.
Given the fact that so much of what we do now takes place online, we are more exposed than ever before. Just take the number of examples of data breaches over the past couple of years: Target, Home Depot, JPMorgan, Yahoo, the health insurance provider Anthem, and many more. Whether you like it or not, you are likely vulnerable to having your personal information stolen.
That’s why you may need credit monitoring services. While they can’t keep you 100% protected from fraudsters, they can help you stay one step ahead of those trying to steal your identity. In the end, criminals will always find a way to steal personal information, but why not have the extra layer of protection that these monitoring services provide?