As you start thinking about Christmas shopping, are you worried about your personal information being stolen?  Most Americans are concerned yet many take no preventive action.   Through frequent credit monitorization, not only do you lower your risk of identity theft, but you’re also able to know where your credit stands at all times. This can be especially helpful if you’re seeking to raise it before applying for a loan or line of credit. By knowing your credit standing before applying, you’re not only more likely to get approved but some banks will even give you a lower interest rate if you have a high enough score.

As we know from the National Consumer Reporting Association’s “Man on the Streets” project, there is a great misunderstanding about what is and isn’t on a credit report, and how scores can be improved. This lack of information is reflected in the Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2016 Identity Fraud Study, where “fraudsters have stolen $112 billion in the past six years. This means a loss of $35,600 every minute.” Not only should you be taking advantage of your free annual credit report, but you should be encouraging your residents and applicants as well. As the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to provide a free copy of their credit report (when requested) every 12 months, letting your residents know where to securely access their credit information will increase the quality of applicants your community gets in the long run. To actively stay on top of your credit—to help protect yourself from identity theft—you can utilize a credit monitoring service like Identity Guard, which monitors your credit file at all 3 major credit bureaus.

What Does Identity Guard Do?

Identity Guard can help protect your identity by scanning your credit applications, monitoring credit files, and notifying you of certain discrepancies or changes. As soon as changes to your credit file are detected, you’ll promptly be alerted with a text and email notification. In addition to keeping tabs on your credit, the service also monitors changes to public information on the internet, scanning for things like if your social security number, credit cards or bank numbers are available in non-secure locations online. They offer free antivirus, anti-spyware, and firewall software for as long as you’re enrolled in the service and if you become a victim of identity theft, Identity Guard has a recovery unit that will help you get back on your feet, faster.

identity-gurad-familyAs Javelin Strategy & Research’s study found that 13.1 million U.S. consumers had their identity stolen in 2015, it’s important to take steps to help protect your identity and familiarize yourself with your credit. This is especially important if you own a business, as identity theft will significantly affect not only you, but your business as well. Identity Guard is offering a free 30 day trial ($14.99/mo. after the trial), which is a small price to pay for some peace of mind.

Do you know someone who was a victim of identity theft? What do you do to protect yourself from identity theft? Let us know in the comments section and be sure to subscribe!

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