Most consumers find the greatest success in preserving their financial integrity by taking matters into their own hands. You can learn how to closely monitor your credit and stop problems before they start.
These tips can help you to keep tabs on your credit, protect your private data, and improve your score:
- Check your credit report right away. Right after the Equifax breach was announced, credit bureaus urged consumers to take action. Request and review your credit report for any suspicious activity. You are entitled to one free credit report every twelve months from each of the three main credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- Deal with disputed accounts. Credit disputes may be more likely to happen following the breach. If you see an account on your credit report that shouldn’t be there, it’s important to address it immediately. Contact the creditor of the disputed account along with each of the three major bureaus to remove the incorrect information. Do not pay on any disputed accounts.
- Set up a credit freeze. A credit freeze offers a way to buffer outside threats to your credit by placing a security freeze, or a hold, on your credit report. A credit freeze will make it harder for third parties, i.e. hackers, to open up new accounts in your name; creditors will not be able to access your credit report without the hold being lifted.
- Set up a fraud alert. If setting up a credit freeze sounds too final, a credit fraud alert is a good alternative. Normally enacted for a period of ninety days, a fraud alert can also be used as backup when you temporarily lift your credit freeze.
- Consider a free credit monitoring tool. Websites offer free access to credit scores and reports from TransUnion and Equifax with weekly updates. Most credit monitoring companies offer a complimentary analysis of your credit profile and make necessary recommendations.
- Review your bank statements and pay bills on time. It’s easy enough to overlook, yet it’s the foundation of financial health.