The Covid-19 crisis has sparkled a rise in identity theft crimes and has drastically increased the demand for credit monitoring. Hackers have been actively exploiting the confusion around the stimulus checks, the enormous amount of unemployed people across the USA applying for benefits, and the fact that millions of people were forced to start working from home.
While businesses of all sizes have always been a target for hackers, all these factors caused by the pandemic increased cyber-attacks targeting individuals. Hackers love easy targets, and people are more likely to slip up during stressful times. In an effort to increase credit awareness and help prevent fraud, the three major credit bureaus in the USA now offer free weekly credit report checks. The offer expires in April 2021. This is undoubtedly an improvement, as in the past, credit bureaus only offered one free check a year.
How to take advantage of the free credit report checks offer?
All users need to do is register at AnnualCreditReport.com. Keeping an eye on your credit reports would help you stay on top of your finances, spot identity theft, help you react to any suspicious activity in a timely manner, and give you peace of mind in these turbulent times.
If you rarely use your credit and are not planning on using it anytime soon, you may even consider freezing all credit reports. Locking your profiles with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion stops fraudsters from being able to commit fraud such as; using your credentials to open new bank accounts and credit cards; applying for some benefits; or getting approved for loans and mortgages. Seeing your credit ruined and knowing that somewhere a criminal is driving around a new BMW bought with your stolen identity is something you do not want to experience.
How does the credit report freeze work?
When someone tries to use your SSN and name for a loan or other activity that requires a credit check, the request simply gets declined if your credit is frozen. If you wish to consider freezing your credit, you have to contact all three major bureaus individually. According to the Attorney General, credit bureaus must comply with online or telephonic requests for a security freeze within one business day of receiving them.
Staying on top of your credit report is a must if you live in the USA. Maintaining a high credit score ensures you always get the best mortgage and loan rates when you need them. With an excellent credit score, you are always able to get approved for the credit card of your choice too. Landlords often check credit reports before renting out apartments, and sometimes employers review credit information while considering a new hire.
Disputing a change on your credit file with a credit bureau can be a tedious process. Being familiar with your credit profile and having proper antivirus software installed on your smart devices is a must should you want to spend your time doing what you love, rather than trying to fix what is already broken.