Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
Your credit report can do more than tell you about your borrowing history; it can also be one of the easiest ways to find out if your identity has been stolen. Identity theft affects millions of households each year, causing financial loss and major headaches as people’s stolen identities and credit histories need to be carefully restored.
By checking your credit report frequently and thoroughly, you can typically spot warning signs for identity theft, halting the crime and mitigating the damage it can cause.
Look for these five red flags as you comb through your credit report:
1. There is a line of credit that you did not open and/or with which you are not familiar. It is a pretty blatant red flag if you pull your credit report and suddenly notice a new credit card you’ve never seen before. If this has happened, it indicates that your identity was likely stolen and used to open new credit cards.
2. An account is delinquent or in collections and you did not know it existed or had been overdue. Often an account you did not know existed will also show up in collections because a scammer isn’t likely to do you the favor of paying the bills he or she accrues. But it’s also possible to see an account you do own wind up in collections. A credit card or line of credit you rarely use could have been stolen and used while the thief had all the bills forwarded to a new address. Utility or phone accounts fraudulently opened in your name could also end up in collections.
3. Your personal information is not correct and/or includes erroneous names or addresses where you never lived. While it might be easy to chalk this up to a clerical error, don’t make that mistake. It could instead mean that your identity has been hacked by someone who has added a new address, name, or other personal information to your file by opening new lines of credit in your name—even if the new accounts haven’t shown up yet.
4. There are hard inquiries for which you did not apply. Hard inquiries are requested on your behalf from potential creditors that are looking into your credit history in order to give you a loan or line of credit. These are inquiries you initiated when shopping for a car loan or mortgage or when applying for a new credit card—you should recognize each one. If you don’t, that’s a red flag which may signal that someone is using your identity to borrow money against your name.
5. There is a Social Security number similar to yours (but not yours!) on your credit report. This may seem to be a simple error, like a misspelled name, but it could actually indicate a new, and very hard to track, type of identity theft called synthetic identity theft. With this kind of identity theft, a thief cobbles together a completely new identity using a Social Security number from one person and a fake name or another stolen name. The “shadow identity” name itself likely won’t appear on your credit report, but people who have been victims of synthetic identity theft have reported instead seeing an erroneous Social Security number appear on their report.
If you spot any of these red flags, it’s time to take immediate action. Start by contacting the police to file a report, and also consider calling the FTC’s identity theft hotline at 877-438-4338 to file a complaint.
Next contact Equifax and the other credit reporting agencies in order to dispute any errors. (Click here to file a dispute with Equifax.) Consider placing a fraud alert or security freeze on your account to halt any further fraudulent activity. Finally, contact the companies associated with any breached accounts in order to have the accounts closed.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.