Norton Seal Man using entering his credit card info into his cellphone.

Money Matters

Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft Fraud Protection

Protecting your home with a security system and locking your doors when you leave for the day are measures you might take to protect your home from intruders. Credit monitoring and identity theft protection are a type of “security system” that protects you from intruders gaining access to your personal information. From financial fraud to identity theft, everyone is susceptible to these types of breaches — that’s why it’s so important to defend yourself against them.

Credit monitoring and identity theft protection are two different ways to proactively protect yourself if your personal information gets into the wrong hands. Let’s take a look at the differences and why it’s important to implement them both together.

What Is Credit Monitoring?

Think of credit monitoring as an early warning system that helps prevent additional damage. It involves a service that regularly checks your credit reports, and alerts you of any changes by phone, text or email. It’ll flag several types of activities:

  • Credit limit increases
  • If an authorized user is added to an account
  • If a credit card or loan application is submitted in your name
  • If a new credit card or loan is opened using your identity

This kind of defense gives you the chance to review the accuracy of any change on your credit report and take care of problems before they get out of hand. If you’re alerted and didn’t personally authorize or initiate the “transaction,” assume it’s evidence of fraud and take immediate action to remedy the situation.

Your credit report affects you in many ways, especially when it comes to mortgage rates, credit card approvals and even apartment applications. Whether you choose a service to monitor your credit or opt to do it yourself, it’s important to have a line of defense in place. Learn about American Family’s exclusive partnership for credit monitoring services with CyberScout, the industry leader in identity and data defense.

DIY Credit Monitoring

You can always choose to monitor your credit on your own by checking your credit report. Did you know that you have access to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies? If you check one every four months, you’ll be able to monitor your credit at no cost. Keep in mind that if you go this route, you won’t have any reminders or alerts, so you’ll need to be diligent about viewing and analyzing the reports.

Check out the three credit reporting agencies to order your reports — remember to stagger them every four months to avoid paying a fee:

What Is Identity Theft Fraud Protection?

To understand the importance of identity theft fraud protection, first let’s look at the definition of identity theft. Identity theft is a crime where someone takes your personal and/or financial information and uses it without your permission. They’ll use it to make transactions or purchases, obtain credit, services or benefits — anything for their financial gain.

How do people steal your information? It’s easier than you think. Identity thieves take advantage of technology and use everything from deceptive emails or text messages, social networking, digital public records, hacking into computers or networks, and using information-gathering malware — among other techniques.

American Family’s partnership with CyberScout also offers an identity theft protection service called LifeStages. Though this doesn’t necessarily stop your information from being stolen, LifeStages provides educational resources, 24/7 access to a CyberScout fraud specialist, proactive services, services to help resolve identity theft and document replacement.

If you’re a victim of identity theft, having an identity restoration plan in place is key to restoring your identity. One way to do this is with identity theft fraud insurance, which can be added to your homeowners or renters policy. With American Family Insurance, we’ll not only help cover expenses related to legal fees, loan reapplication fees, notary expenses and lost wages due to time taken from work to restore your credit, but you’ll also have one-on-one guidance from an expert to help you through the entire restoration process.

DIY Identity Theft Fraud Protection

Protecting your identity starts with you. Sure, having a monitoring and recovery service is helpful — but they’ll come in handy once someone has already breached your privacy. Practicing safe habits and taking proactive measures to protect your personal information are key to prevention. Follow these twelve tips to help protect your identity.

Monitoring your credit and personal information and having identity theft insurance can give you peace of mind. Connect with your American Family agent to find out how you can add identity theft insurance to your homeowners or renters policy.

How would you rate this article?

Related Topics: Identity Theft , Finance