Protect Your Credit Score
Your credit score is the key to many investments of your future; therefore, the importance of your credit score is paramount. When there is fraud tied to your information and credit history, it can negatively impact your credit score, which means it is necessary to protect your credit information and do everything you can to prevent fraud.
How to Prevent Fraud
Keep an eye out for unauthorized charges
Frequently check your credit card statements and be aware of charges you did not make. Watch out for red flags, including charges made in a different geographic region, uncharacteristic purchases, or numerous small purchases. If you notice any charges on your credit card that you did not make, call your credit card provider and report the unauthorized charges.
Monitor your credit report
You are entitled to a free report every year from each of the three bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) through www.annualcreditreport.com. Request a report every four months from one of the different bureaus so you can monitor your credit throughout the year at no charge. Never pay for a credit score report off an irreputable site.
Shred your sensitive documents
Many documents have information that identity thieves can use to access your accounts. Identifying documents can include bank statements, credit card applications, bills, and anything else that states your personal information. Throwing away sensitive documents is not enough; dedicated thieves dig through your trash to find information. It is important to shred identifying documents. Don't have a shredder? Texans Credit Union offers FREE Shred Days throughout the year to help protect your identity by shredding your important documents.
If You Suspect Fraud
Add an initial security alert to your file
If you find unauthorized charges on your card or find unusual credit activity on your report, you may set up an initial security alert to your file. When you fear fraud may have occurred, an initial security alert warns lenders that you may have been a fraud victim and asks them to take extra precautions before granting a line of credit in your name. Security alerts are shared with all three credit bureaus. To set up an initial security alert, visit www.Experian.com/fraud, or call 1.888.EXPERIAN.
If You are a Victim of Fraud
Add an extended security alert to your file
If fraud does occur, you can request an extended security alert, also known as a victim statement. As a higher level fraud alert, this generally requires a police report. This ensures lenders verify your identity over the phone before they approve any new credit card application associated with your name and credit file. An extended security alert is valid for seven years. To set up an extended security alert, visit www.Experian.com/fraud, or call 1.888.EXPERIAN.
Freeze your account
Adding a freeze to your credit allows you to restrict access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. If a creditor cannot see your credit report, they may not be able to extend the credit to the fraudster. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score. It also does not prevent you from getting your free annual credit report, buying insurance, or applying for a job. You are the only person who can temporarily lift or remove the freeze. Fees and regulations vary by state. To set up a credit freeze, visit www.Experian.com/fraud, or call 1.888.EXPERIAN.