How to Check Your Credit Report for Identity Theft
Identity thieves are almost always opportunistic—but the crimes they commit feel very personal. Unauthorized credit card charges, bogus loan applications, missing money, and other financial violations make fraud a major nightmare.
How Do I Check My Credit for Identity Theft?
To avoid falling victim to identity theft, examine your credit report regularly. You can access a free copy of your credit report from all three bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—once a year.
Incorrect Personal Information
Sometimes, incorrect personal information is the result of an innocent mistake. If you see your name misspelled, a wrong phone number or address, or an incorrect Social Security number on your credit report, investigate immediately.
Lender Inquiries You Don’t Recognize
Hard enquiries from companies you don’t recognize are a different matter. Sometimes, fraudsters make a lot of credit card and personal loan applications in a short period of time, so if you see a recent list of unknown inquiries, someone might be trying to steal your identity.
Accounts You Never Opened
Only your own accounts—including accounts that you’ve cosigned and for which you’re an authorized user—should appear on your credit report. If you find an unknown account on your credit report.
You Credit Utilization Goes Up
If you suddenly owe more than before and you haven’t changed your spending habits, someone else might be splurging on your behalf. Check your credit card statement very carefully and flag any suspicious transactions straight away.
Your Score Goes Up or Down Unexpectedly
Credit scores change over time. When negative information falls off your credit report after a certain period of time, your score increases.
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