If you pay attention to the news, you have probably heard about some of the recent major security breaches in a variety of companies that store your personal and financial information. In some cases only credit card numbers and addresses were stolen, but in other cases, enough personal information was stolen that a thief could assume your name and apply for credit under your your name and a false address, then start racking up the charges. By the time they finish, they could have charged tens of thousands of dollars to your name and destroyed your credit. This is where credit monitoring comes in handy.
About credit monitoring. Credit monitoring allows you to monitor any changes in your credit profile, as reported by the three major credit bureaus. When there is a change to your credit profile, such as an application for credit, a new address, or a fraud alert, you receive a notification. This allows you to correct the issue before it becomes a major problem and before identity is completely stolen and your credit trashed. From there, it is a good idea to report any fraudulent instances to the police and possibly institute a credit freeze on your SSN.
Additionally, you can use credit monitoring to verify any reports for accuracy. For example, a small error on your credit report can cause your score to drop by a few points for a single late notice, to over a hundred points for a charged off debt, multiple late payments, or other derogatory activity. Monitoring your credit profile helps you stay on top of your score in more or less real time, helping you ensure your score is accurate. And accuracy is essential, as derogatory marks can stay on your credit report for years.
Free Credit Alerts from Credit Karma
Right now, Credit Karma is offering readers an opportunity to monitor your credit profile for free (as a reference, most companies charge around $10 or more per month for a similar service).
How Credit Karma Credit Alerts works:
- Sign up for a free Credit Karma Credit Alerts membership.
- Credit Karma monitors your credit report for free on a daily basis.
- A change occurs in your credit file (say, a new credit inquiry, a new address, or a fraud alert, for example).
- Credit Karma catches wind of the new activity and lets you know by sending you a Credit Alert in your email inbox (see screen shot below).
Amplify and Simplify Your Security
Preventing identity theft starts with you, but since you can’t control what happens with your personal and financial data once it leaves your hands, it’s a good idea to add a credit monitoring service to help or stop identity theft, quickly if it does occur. And with free Credit Alerts from Credit Karma, all you have to do is check your email and take action if something unauthorized occurs. All you need to do is sign up and Credit Karma will alert you to any changes in your credit profile.
About Credit Karma
Credit Karma offers free credit scores and now, the free credit monitoring service. The credit scores they offer are not the FICO credit score (you have to pay for FICO credit scores from MyFICO). However, the credit scores from Credit karma are based on a similar 850 point system and are based on information from your credit report, as reported by Transunion, one of the three major credit bureaus. While it won’t be your FICO credit score (the credit score most commonly used by lenders), it should give you a very good idea of what your credit score is. The best part – it’s free!