Most people these days realize that their entire financial history is chronicled in a detailed credit report. Almost 70% of people, however, don’t realize that the information that those detailed credit reports contain is then calculated into a three digit credit score. You can have a pretty good repayment history on a lot of items, but it doesn’t take too many negative reports on your credit report to make your credit score drop like a heavy rock thrown into a pond. In fact, some negative events can take up to 160 points off of your credit score. That’s definitely something that you don’t want to have happen to you without your knowledge… right? But that can happen to you if you don’t realize the importance of your credit score.
Why is Knowing Your Credit Score Important?
There are two important reasons why it is important to know what your credit score is at minimum on a month-to-month basis:
because lenders will generally grant new lines of credit based off of your credit score & not off of your credit report; and
knowing what your baseline score is will help you be able to determine if an identity thief is prowling around.
Your credit score, which is a number that falls between 300 – 850, is a gauge on the overall health of your financial decision-making. A higher credit score will bring you better interest rates, friendlier repayment terms, and the ability to borrow more money. A lower credit score can result in higher interest rates, rigid repayment terms, and potentially a lack of ability to borrow any money whatsoever.
What is a Good Credit Score?
So what is a good credit score? Anything over 650, as for a vast majority of lenders, this is the number where better rates and terms come into play. Yet remember – a perfect score is 850, so there is 200 points of improvement to be made. The good news is that the average credit score in the United States is 720, so you’ve likely got good credit and you don’t even know it.
When an identity thief strikes by opening up new lines of credit, maximizing those credit lines, and then failing to pay anything on them, your credit score will go down. If an identity thief gets a mortgage in your name that is then foreclosed upon, your credit score could go down as much as 160 points. A false bankruptcy in your name because of an identity thief could result in a credit score reduction of 100 points. That’s why detecting any fluctuation early, even if only a point or two, is so critical to preventing the damage that an identity thief can do.
What Makes Up a Credit Score?
Knowing what makes up your credit score helps you to be able to know how you can improve it… and know where identity thieves might be chipping away at you if your score is dropping unexpectedly.
35% Payment History: Having a history making of payments on time and not having any missed payments on all of your credit lines is one of the most important items lenders look at on everyone’s credit history.
30% Amount Owed: This looks at the amounts you owe in relation to the total amount of credit that is available to you. People who are closer to maxing out all their credit limits are deemed to have a higher risk of making late payments in the future, and this can lower their credit score. Not having any credit activity on open credit lines for a lengthy period of time can have the same effect.
15% Length of Credit History: A credit report containing a list of accounts opened for a long time will always help your credit score. Having a lot of new accounts opened in the last few months will not.
10% New Credit: Opening several new lines of credit in a short period of time can lower your credit score twice. Multiple credit report inquiries can represent a greater risk because it appears that you may be attempting to obtain new credit, but this does NOT include any requests made by you, an employer, or by a lender who does so when sending you an unsolicited, “pre-approved” credit offer. Also, to compensate for rate shopping, the credit score counts multiple inquiries in any 14-day period as just one inquiry instead of multiple inquiries.
10% Types of Credit in Use: Is all of your credit in credit cards? Or do you have a mortgage, a vehicle loan, a department card, & a couple credit cards? More variety will equate to a higher credit score.
How Can You Monitor Your Credit Score?
There are two very easy ways to monitor your credit score. You can:
sign up for an identity theft protection service plan that includes credit score monitoring; or you can pay one of the three major credit bureaus to access your credit score and your credit report.
Now some states do offer their residents the ability to access their credit score for free, in addition to the free credit reports that you are entitled to under Federal and State laws. Be sure to check your local resources to determine what kind of products are available in your area and what you may need to do to be able to access them.
By monitoring your credit at least monthly, you’ll be able to tell if your credit score is doing something that it shouldn’t be doing, and knowing what makes up your credit score can help you to boost it higher. Identity thieves are counting on the fact that you don’t know this information… but they do.
I’ve talked a bit in the past about using credit freezes as a means of preventing identity theft. Essentially, a credit freeze puts a lock down on access to your credit reports when you enable it with all 3 credit bureaus. No new lines of credit can be opened because potential creditors can’t run your credit. Pretty simple concept right? Unfortunately, most people don’t consider placing a credit freeze until after they have had their identity stolen. At this point, it’s likely the damage has been done, and the credit freeze is nothing more than a band aid. Same goes for your child’s credit.
Until recently, most states haven’t allowed parents to proactively freeze their child’s credit to protect against identity theft damage. This is changing however, as now more than 20 states will allow parents or guardians to freeze the credit of children under the age of 18 before they become victims of identity theft. If you have young children, there is absolutely no reason NOT to lock down their credit reports. If they’re under 18 years old they cannot legally apply for a credit card, mortgage or other lines of credit, so there’s no reason to have their credit reports accessible and left vulnerable to identity theft. Washington state is the most recent to allow proactive credit freezes for minors.
A recent study by identity theft protection company, All Clear ID, shows roughly one in 10 children become the victims of identity theft, making them roughly 35 times more likely than adults to be victimized. A child’s credit is attractive to thieves because it’s often rarely checked, allowing the fraud to continue for an extended period of time, and, unlike adults, a child’s credit is often a clean slate. Read the full story here
Most people are also unaware that they can enroll their children, as well as themselves in a credit monitoring plan that will send alerts if anyone is trying to use their social security number to open any new lines of credit. This is another important proactive step that can mitigate potential identity theft damage. Several of the major credit monitoring services that I recommend, including IdentityGuard & Lifelock, have monitoring plans that allow parents to include their children’s social security numbers for monitoring.
If you live in one of the light colored states on the map above, consider freezing your child’s credit soon, and get a credit monitoring plan in place for the entire family as a second layer of protection.
Update: The Citi Credit Monitoring Service Program was terminated 3-31-2015.
We recommend you look at our LifeLock monitoring review as an alternative to the Citi monitoring plan.
IdentityMonitor is a service provided by Citibank. Citibank has been in business for the past 200 years thanks to its ability to do business through what they call Responsible Finance. What this means to Citibank is that they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into small businesses, infrastructure, and other choice opportunities to help the average consumer be able to work for themselves, protect themselves, and achieve anything they wish to achieve. IdentityMonitor comes under the realm of protection for CitiBank customers, but is available for anyone who is wishing to have credit and identity theft protections.
Daily Monitoring for Daily Results
The key to being able to catch an identity thief in the act is to monitor your information on a daily basis. IdentityMonitor does this through credit monitoring reports every day to determine if any changes have been made to critical components, such as your address, your delinquent accounts, or new lines of credit, whether secured or unsecured.
IdentityMonitor also helps you have a hand in keeping your identity safe by providing you a complete credit report and credit score analysis upon signing up for their identity theft protection services. You then get access to this information for free on a monthly basis. This allows you to manually review your credit information to insure that all the information shown is authorized by you.
IdentityMonitor Gives You Effective Alerts
If IdentityMonitor detects information that may cause an identity theft to potentially occur or believes that a theft has already occurred, then you will be notified via the Notify Express system that Citibank has set up. This alert system lets you know when there is any change to your information that may be an indicator of fraud. You can also be notified in the way that works the best for you: through standard U.S. mail, e-mail, text messages, or by a phone call.
Get the Support That You Need
With an IdentityMonitor subscription, you get around the clock access to your credit information with a simple log-in. Some folks have questions about what it takes to adequately keep their identities and credit safe, If you believe that you have been the victim of identity theft, you also have immediate access to Citi’s Identity Theft Solutions department.
Should you become the victim of identity theft, you have access to a $10,000 – $25,000 insurance policy in most states to help you be able to work to recover your identity. This can help you to be able to defend yourself effectively, cover the costs of restoring your identity, and even cover lost wages that may occur while you are working to restore your identity. It may not be as much as the insurance policies of other companies, but unlike other identity theft policies, there is no limit to the amount of claims that you can have. Each claim you make gives you access to another policy!
Signing Up for IdentityMonitor is Easy!
You can sign up today for IdentityMonitor without being a member of Citibank! All you have to do is fill out your personal information and once you’ve agreed to the terms and conditions, you’ll have instant access to your Experian credit information. A simple and free upgrade is all that is required to get all three of the major credit bureau’s information about you around the clock.
Pricing & Value
IdentityMonitor offers only one plan of service that covers daily monitoring of your credit information and assistance in restoring your identity. You can try IdentityMonitor for the first 30 days for just $1, and then afterwards is $12.95/month. It should be noted that Citibank, in their terms and conditions, state that they can modify or cancel the IdentityMonitor program, including a change in the price of the program, without notifying you about these changes.
Protect Your Identity & Your Credit Today
Thanks to the Federal bailout, Citibank is more stable than ever when it comes to being able to provide an essential service to its customers. Becoming a customer of Citibank to make sure your credit and identity are effectively covered puts a bank on your side when it comes to fighting for you. Try out IdentityMonitor today for just a buck and discover how good it feels knowing that your identity and your credit are in safe hands.
TransUnion is one of the three credit reporting bureaus along with Equifax and Experian. The three credit reporting agencies keep track of your credit history and provide reports to prospective lenders and mortgage brokers. TransUnion not only reports on your credit, but they have processes in place to help make corrections to your report. On their site, TransUnion asks: “Have you applied for a credit card and been denied because of bad credit?” Credit card companies may be closing the door to you because of inaccurate information! TransUnion helps to fix your credit record, but only if you know what your TransUnion credit report says and specifically what needs to be fixed on TransUnion’s report.
TransUnion allows you to run a credit check on yourself quickly and easily. You could even pull your TransUnion credit report online while on a lunch break or in your pajamas at home. The sooner you see the Experian, Equifax or TransUnion credit reports that lenders and credit card companies see, the sooner you can make the changes needed to improve your credit rating and change in your life.
With a menu of reporting format options ranging from a free TransUnion credit report to a low-cost $29.95 three in one credit report profile including a free credit score, there is almost no reason that you can’t quickly and conveniently obtain your TransUnion credit report information and immediately report any payment, debt, name, or address mistakes to TransUnion.
Do you need to purchase a personal TransUnion credit report? Right now you can run a personal credit check for only $9. Do you want to compare your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports side-by-side to be sure none of them are reporting damaging or flat out wrong information about your credit history? If so, the three in one credit report is the way to go.
Yes, credit reporting agencies sometimes make mistakes. TransUnion may not even know it and their mistakes could cost you. It is up to you to make sure that your debt payment history information is reflected accurately on TransUnion’s report. Does your TransUnion credit report tell lenders that you made two late payments — but you didn’t? Does the report say that you still have an outstanding auto loan debt — but your car is paid off? Correcting wrong info can possibly increase your credit score. Increasing your credit score could mean the difference between a lender saying YES instead of NO. Transunion also offers id protection services that will keep track of your credit reports for fraud and identity theft.
Here is what a TransUnion credit report will show you:
- Names you have used
- Current and prior addresses
- Names of your creditors
- The amount of secured and unsecured debt taken out in your name
- Whether that debt is in the form of a revolving or installment account
- The current balances versus the limits on those accounts
- How prompt or late payments have been
- Your employment history and employer addresses
- Public records of judgments or liens against you
How do you get your TransUnion credit report right now? Just visit their site at www.transunion.com.free credit report.
Credit card fraud is growing at an alarming rate across the globe and most of them involve online transactions. As a matter of fact, credit card fraud online is expected to increase to billions by 2008, based on the analysis of financial experts. This is quite a worrying statistic considering the detailed research as well as efforts from main credit card companies including MasterCard and Visa to prevent this growing fraud.
Typically, credit card fraud is defined as buying products or services from personnel not associated or connected with particular credit card making the transactions. Thus, the merchants are tricked into releasing merchandises or rendering several services to a false identity. The growth of this kind of fraud is still increasing and expected to grow in the long run.
Credit card fraud is a big problem as well as a dilemma within the society today. To reduce the chances of being a victim of credit card fraud, there are several steps you may consider. Subjects may include securing your bank account information, checking statements, keeping the credit cards safe, and verifying your visa card. Some tips may include not giving your PIN or bank passwords to anyone, throwing your bank statements in the bin without shredding it, and many more.
The most typical method used by criminals is targeting cards and other information in offline shops, unsecured online transactions, and in conversation. If you have a credit card, you should not hand over it to anyone. Keep it out from possible fraudsters and don’t write your PIN number. Keeping your credit card in a safe and secure place is also a good idea.
Majority of mail order, internet, and phone fraud happens because of the reason that one’s card details are stolen. Due to this, don’t let your credit card out of sight and pay importance to it if you don’t want to fall from the criminal’s hands.
Keeping your credit card secure and safe can make a huge difference. But, similar to every consultant, fraudsters are also experts in their field and may acquire information from the smallest chance presented to them. So, check your bank statements regularly. When you get your bank statements, check if there are irregular or unauthorized transactions. If the statement presented such fraudulent transactions, call your credit card company or bank at the soonest date and let them know about the illegal activity.
There are other steps you may consider when avoiding credit card fraud. If you don’t want to suffer from the consequences of being a victim of credit card fraud, never forget to do those steps mentioned above and always ensure that your personal information is protected. Today, there are also some companies offering credit card fraud protection services. Depending on your choice, you can try such services to protect yourself from credit card fraud. But, make sure that your chosen provider is reliable and has a good reputation when it comes to providing such solutions as this can make a huge difference in the long run.
Learning how to prevent credit card fraud online can be challenging, especially if you’re not using the right tools for to resolve the problem. What makes it much difficult to stop credit card fraud over the internet is that you’re not in the thief’s physical presence. You have no photo IDs to compare to the face behind credit cards and as such, you can depend on effective methods to prevent and detect. Unluckily, technology isn’t foolproof, particular if you’re playing with the false bank identification number database.
You can start preventing credit card fraud by establishing identification. While a lot of people depend on the 3-digit code on the back of your card as a proof that the person utilizing the card actually has the ownership of it, it does not prevent against stolen or lost cards. While bin database purports to stay on card numbers that are used in questionable ways, a lot of them fail to keep their information updated. Keeping databases may cost money and tons of companies would rather consider to inflate their profit margins and will leave you with many charges, instead of pouring in the important resources to operate quality products. Beware of those that undersell their competition severely.
If you are an online business owner, you should always prioritize to invest in a reliable bin database. This is the only way that you will be able to tell if the customer has put holds on the card due to stolen or lost criteria. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you know regarding such measures, even if it’s the responsibility of the customer to report about their lost or stolen card.
Checking your monthly statement is also essential. It can be an old fashioned method, yet it can make a big impact on assessing and finding fraudulent charges. Checking your bank statement monthly can alert you to even insignificant charges that are made by authorized users of your financial information. Bank apps and online banking make it easy for you to check your statement no matter where you are. This may help you keep tabs on the possible credit card fraud. Numerous fraudsters will begin by testing small charges to check if the card really works. Keep an eye on the charges you do not recognize, regardless of how small they are. If you think it’s a bit strange, call your credit card provider at the soonest date.
Investing on the safety of yourself and your business can help you prevent credit card fraud online. With this, you will also provide protection to your loyal customers. There are several practices you may perform to avoid this kind of fraud. Considering those mentioned tips above may also come in handy. Just ensure that you know how to implement them effectively for you to get results in the end. If you can’t protect yourself from credit card fraud, hiring experts or considering an identity protection service from a dependable company like IdentityGuard may also be a wise idea for you.