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Week 3: Credit Maintenance
Day 19: Scams and Fraud
Today’s Easy Financial Task: Protect your identity and credit from scams and fraud.
How to rock this task:
- Set up a fraud alert or credit freeze if necessary
- Use optoutprescreen.com to opt out of credit card and insurance preapproval offers to gain control of who gets access to your credit history
Welcome to Day 19!
The purpose of today’s task is to make sure that you remain vigilant. Technology is always evolving, so it’s easier than ever for scammers to get access to your personal information and use it for their financial gain.
Fortunately, you can take steps to limit the chances of your identity getting stolen and minimize the damage a scammer can do to your credit if you suspect identity theft.
Here are a few ways to protect yourself:
Never save your login information: Many websites give the option to save your username and password for the next time you log in. Never save this information. If someone untrustworthy gets their hands on your device, they get an all access pass to your entire life.
Don’t use the same username and password for all of your accounts. This includes email, social media, bank, and credit card accounts. If someone figures out how to get into one account, they have access to each one.
Don’t share personal information through email: Emails can get intercepted and networks can get hacked, so avoid using it to exchange sensitive information.
Sign up for credit monitoring: Always monitor your credit report to catch inconsistencies right away to minimize the impact of identity theft if it does happen.
Remember, you’re entitled to a free credit report from each credit bureau annually. (For a refresher on where you can get your credit report for free, go back to Day 3.) You can sign up for FREE credit monitoring with Credit Sesame HERE.
Set up fraud alerts: If you suspect someone has stolen your identity or someone is misusing your personal information, you can set up fraud alerts with the credit bureaus.
When a fraud alert is activated, a company has to take the extra step of double-checking your identity when an application is received before offering credit. This extra verification step can make it harder for a scammer to commit fraud in your name.
An initial fraud alert lasts for 90 days and is free to set up. Once the 90 days end, you have the option to renew the fraud alert. You can set up fraud alerts here:
- Experian Fraud Alert – experian.com/fraud/center.html
- Equifax Fraud Alert – https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp
- TransUnion Fraud Alert – https://www.transunion.com/fraud-victim-resource/place-fraud-alert
Set up a credit freeze (or security freeze): Credit freezing is another layer of security that’s even tighter than a fraud alert. Credit freezing locks your credit report entirely.
To allow a company, employer, or financial institution to pull a report, you’ll have to temporarily lift the credit freeze. Unlike the fraud alerts, credit freezing and unfreezing may cost you between $3 and $10 depending on your state. You can set up credit freezes here:
- Experian Credit Freeze – https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
- TransUnion Credit Freeze – https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp
- Equifax Credit Freeze – https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
Monitor your bank and credit card accounts: Besides keeping an eye out for new accounts taken out in your name, you should be mindful of your existing accounts as well. Review your bank and credit card statements to pick up on unfamiliar charges.
Sign up for up to $50,000 in FREE identity theft insurance: Use Credit Sesame. Again, when you sign up for Credit Sesame’s free credit monitoring, they’ll automatically give you $50,000 identity theft insurance, plus live access to talk to identity restoration specialists — for freeeeeeee.
Sign up here: https://creditsesame.go2cloud.org/aff_c?offer_id=38&aff_id=441
Opt-Out of Unwarranted Prescreens from Credit Card and Insurance Companies
We briefly discussed how credit card and insurance companies might prequalify you for products without you knowing. I also mentioned there’s a way to opt-out of these pre-screenings.
Remember, these offers don’t impact your credit score since it’s a soft pull on your credit, but they can be nuisance junk mail. Plus, you don’t want the offers to get in the wrong hands. You are entitled to opt-out of these screenings to limit junk mail and to unlist yourself from company databases.
You can do so for free at www.optoutprescreen.com. Opting out of the list lasts for five years or you can choose to do it permanently.
In today’s task, we covered many ways to protect your identity and I can’t stress enough the importance of staying cautious. Going through credit and identity repair after fraud is a long and challenging process. Do what you can now to prevent it from happening.
As a recap, here are the actions you can take right now to protect your identity:
1.) Go to each of the websites where you manage your financial accounts online and remove the saved username and password.
2.) Switch up your username and passwords so they’re not all the same. Write down your username and passwords and keep them somewhere safe.
3.) Set fraud alerts or credit freezes on your account if you’re in a situation now where you believe someone may have access to your private information.
4.) Sign up for Identity Protection
5.) Opt-out of company pre-screens if you want to stop getting preapproved for products.
That’s a wrap for today’s task.
Leave a comment below or reach out to your accountability partner(s) if you have any questions.
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