Protect Your Credit
To monitor your personal information and data security, we recommend taking a proactive approach. Following are steps you can take regularly to stay on top of your personal credit.
Regularly Check Your Credit Report
Federal law allows you to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit-reporting companies every 12 months. These include TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. We recommend ordering one report every four months from one of these agencies. This will help you keep regular tabs on your credit by reviewing a different credit report three times per year.
You may order your free reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. According to the Federal Trade Commission, they are the only authorized website for free credit reports. To order:
- Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request a free report.
- Call AnnualCreditReport.com at 1-877-322-8228.
- To mail a request, go to AnnualCreditReport.com/GettingReports.action
for instructions and mailing address.
Whichever route you choose, you will need to provide your name, address, social security number, date of birth, and answers to a few questions about your credit history (which are meant to be difficult) in order to verify your identity.
Once in hand, review your report. Any accounts or activity you don’t recognize could be from identify theft, and we’re happy to walk through how to handle any items of concern. Or, visit IdentityTheft.gov for suggested steps to take.
Other Next Steps
- Monitor your existing credit cards, bank accounts, and insurance statements for any charges you don’t recognize. Keep in mind that some thieves make small charges (< $100) on many accounts in order to stay under the radar.
- Don’t just throw away, but shred all documents that contain any personal information. Many outside companies, such as office supply stores, offer this service.
- If you're married, consider taking the above steps for both you and your spouse.
- If you are compromised, consider placing a credit freeze (or security freeze) on your files through each of the credit bureaus. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score but does make it more difficult for a thief to open an account in your name. Visit this FTC webpage for more information
on credit freezes: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov/databreach for more suggested steps you can take if your data was compromised.
Feel welcome to contact us to discuss any concerns you have with your credit monitoring or report data.
Napa Valley Wealth Management is not affiliated with any of the above listed entities.