Have you ever noticed how hospitals and newspapers will post news of certain events in our lives. There are the pictures of the newborn babies, an obituary in the newspaper which can be a huge source of information for those who participate in credit card fraud or identity theft. If you have had a recent development in your family like a new baby, death or divorce, now is a good to order a copy of your credit report.
The majority of identity theft occurs as a new identity is “pieced” together using one person’s name, another’s address and so on. It also may use your name, and just a small change to your address, for example changing your address from 2345 Red Fox Lane to 1234 Red Fox Lane. It’s a small, but subtle change, just like those small changes or mistakes you find in spam and phishing emails in your in box.
After my divorce, my new husband and I were getting ready to buy a new house, as we join his and her families. We decided to order our credit report to see what if anything was on them that may need taken care of before we applied for a mortgage. After ordering my free credit score we found that someone had used my information to obtain some small loans and credit cards from stores. Some of the details stated were correct, while others were wrong. It has happened, I was a victim of identity theft.
Fortunately, we were able to show proof that I was not living at the address stated on the credit report, that the address was actually made up (close but no cigar to my original address) and succcesfully file our dispute of the charges. It didn’t take long to straighten things out, but we learned after that it was important to put some safe guards into place so that we were aware of what was happening to our credit each month.
Our safe guards included monitoring our credit report each month, placing a freeze on my credit report (that only I could lift with certain verification and password). It was effective, we received monthly notices and while a few attempts were made to use my credit they were never able to get past the monitoring services we had put into place.
If you have had a significant event in your household, now is a good time for you to review your credit score if you haven’t already. For other resources on this topic consult the “FTC Guide to Credit Scores”