Use these three strategies to help catch errors and fraud on your credit report.

To have a healthy credit score, you need to have a healthy credit report. Did you know one small error on your credit report can have a major impact on your credit score? A small reporting error, an incorrect address or an account that is not your own are all errors that can happen. Something even worse? Fraudsters using your information to open accounts in your name. What can you do to protect yourself from these situations?  

How to Catch Credit Report Errors and Fraud

May 3, 2017

Use these three strategies to help catch errors and fraud on your credit report.

To have a healthy credit score, you need to have a healthy credit report. Did you know one small error on your credit report can have a major impact on your credit score? A small reporting error, an incorrect balance or an account that is not your own are all errors that can happen. Something even worse? Fraudsters using your information to open accounts in your name. What can you do to protect yourself from these situations?

Reviewing Your Credit Report

One way you can catch errors and fraud before they become a major concern is by checking your credit report annually. This allows you to review all of the information on your credit report and catch any inaccuracies, errors or fraud. You can request a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com from each credit bureau (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) once a year.

It’s smart to pull one report every four months to ensure you’re catching any issues that come up over the year. Also keep in mind the information on your credit report can vary from bureau to bureau, so it’s important to check your report from all three credit bureaus.

What types of errors should you look for?

Reviewing your credit report every four months can help you catch errors and possible fraud. -Incorrect addresses
-New accounts you did not open
-Incorrect reporting of payments/accounts
-Old or outdated information
-Hard inquiries you did not initiate
-Incorrect personal information
-Sudden changes you do not recognize

If you find an error, report it to the credit bureau immediately. 

What to read next5 Reasons you Need to Check Your Annual Credit Report

Fraud Alerts

Although checking your credit report regularly can help you identify fraud and errors, it won’t necessarily stop them from happening. One way you can help avoid fraud is by placing an initial fraud alert on your credit report. An initial fraud alert places heavier verifications on credit and loan applications, making it harder for fraudsters to open fraudulent accounts with your information.

To initiate this alert, you need to call one of the three credit bureaus and request an initial fraud alert on your credit report. The credit bureau you contact is required to notify the other two bureaus, who will then instill the fraud alert on their credit reports. This alert will only last 90 days, but can be renewed.

Fraud alerts are free of charge and do not affect your credit score. Do be aware that they may cause delays when applying for new credit or loans.

Want fraud alerts for debit and credit card transactions? Set personalized fraud alerts with Credit Card Control and Debit Card Control inside Online Banking.


Credit Monitoring Programs

One way to stay on top of the information on your credit report beyond your three annual reviews is by using a credit-monitoring program. Companies can monitor your credit 24/7 and alert you of any sudden changes, suspicious activity or possible fraud. Although these monitoring programs can’t prevent fraud, they can help you react much quicker and stop fraud before it escalates into a much larger problem. 

Credit-monitoring programs offer many different benefits and packages, ranging from quarterly credit report updates from all three bureaus to tracking whether your personal information is being sold on black market websites. Make sure to thoroughly research the company before signing up; review this article by the FTC for tips and pointers on what to look for.

If you’re interested in using a credit-monitoring program, see some of the top selections of 2017 here. It’s best to compare the different programs and choose the one that best fits your wants and needs to avoid paying extra for perks you may not use. 

Did you know? Your FICO® Score is Available in Online Banking

Keeping your credit report free of errors will help keep your credit score healthy, and watching for suspicious activity can stop fraud in its tracks. Monitoring your credit report on a regular basis and utilizing some of the tools above can help you catch credit report errors and fraud early on before they become a much bigger problem.

Discover more helpful articles about credit in our Managing Credit content collection.      

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