Identity theft is an increasingly common crime. The fallout from an identity theft can be financially ruinous. If you are not already doing so, you should request your free annual credit report(s).
Active Time: 30 minutes
What it Protects Your From: Reactive measure to alert you to identity theft
Request Your Free Annual Credit Report
Your free annual credit report will give you a great deal of information about your credit and can let you know if fraudulent lines of credit have been taken against your name. There are several areas of your credit report to which you should pay special attention:
- Inquiries: These are requests to check your credit in preparation to open a new line of credit, and impact your credit score. Full-on credit inquiries occur when you are purchasing a new car, a home, or taking out a new credit card. If you do not recognize any of the inquiries contained in this section someone may have attempted to open new credit in your name.
- Non-Impact: These are so-called “soft pulls” on your credit that do not impact your credit score. Examples of non-impact credit pulls are pre-approved credit offers and the checks conducted by banks prior to opening a new checking account.
- Open Accounts: You should recognize all of these. If there are open accounts that you do not recognize, you should contact the credit issuer; this is the most distinct indicator you may have of a stolen credit account.
- Close Accounts: This is especially important if you have not received a credit report in a long time (or ever). It is possible that lines of credit have been opened in your name. If unable to collect, some creditors may have adjudicated the accounts and closed them. This will reflect extremely poorly on your credit and you should begin rectifying it immediately.
- Addresses: Finally, you should carefully monitor the “addresses” section. First, if you are attempting to live invisibly, you should ensure that your true physical address does not appear here. Secondly,
It is important to note that this is a reactive step and will not protect you from future attempts to open credit in your name. However, it will make you aware of previous attempts in a timely manner.