5 Steps To Protect Your Credit

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

By: Peter Vander Ploeg, CFP®

Only three months ago, we sent out an email with information about Social Security and Tax-Related scams prevalent at the end of tax season.  Unfortunately, the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal reminds us that hackers can steal our personal information in an instant.  Capital One admitted Monday that approximately 106 million credit card customers and applicant’s personal information were compromised.

With the hacks of Marriott, Home Depot, Target, and Equifax in the last few years, there is a good chance your personal information was compromised.  To help protect yourself, make sure to take these steps:

1 – Check Your Statements and Set Up Alerts.  You are the first line of defense to notice if something is wrong.  Don’t rely on the company to notify you of an issue.

2 – Get Free Credit Monitoring.  Both Capital One and Equifax are offering free credit monitoring as a result of the data breaches.

Capital One will notify customers who were affected and offer free credit monitoring and identity protection.

Visit www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com for more information on the Equifax Data Breach Settlement.

3 – Check Your Credit Report.  A good habit to start is checking your credit report once a year.  Look for any new lines of credit and verify the accuracy of everything on the report.

4 – Freeze Your Credit.  You can freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus so no one will be able to access your credit reports without your permission.  No one will be able to create a new credit line in your name unless you unfreeze your credit.  We suggest taking this step for you and on behalf of any minor children, but make sure to hold off if you are buying a home, car, or applying for a credit card.

5 – Watch Out For Scams.  It almost goes without saying, but scams can be tricky.  Don’t click on links in your email or text messages unless you know where they are going to take you.

Although Ben Franklin was referring to your physical health, his quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today as it was back then.  Stay safe out there!