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To protect your data, go beyond a credit freeze

Posted by RuyM on September 14, 2018
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As a full-time real estate investor, credit data is hugely important, since it can mean hundreds if not thousands in costs.  One of the main reasons why, through FirmRE.biz, we published a book on how to repair and improve credit….  And we constantly working in ways to protect, repair and improve credit…  The information below is part of new additions coming too soon to the new edition of FirmRE’s book Take Control.

ID theft is constantly increasing and getting even more creative in how to utilize your information.   Putting a deep freeze on your three major credit reports is a well-known way to prevent fraudsters from opening credit cards and other loans in your name. But it’s an incomplete one.

Criminals are increasingly opening phone, utility, bank and other types of accounts that don’t require your credit report for approval. They use these accounts as their own, never pay the bill and go undetected.  We actually had a case, where ID theft was used to open a Dish Network account, where the victim didn’t find out about the crime until they receive a collections notice for the due balance.

Even worse, some criminals can move money out of a compromised bank or PayPal account of yours and into a fake checking or savings account they set up in your name. By the time you discover the money transfer, it’s too late.

Last year, 44 % of victims of fraudulent accounts reported that thieves had set up a fake mobile phone and bank services in their names, up from 27% in 2016, according to an annual fraud survey from Javelin Strategy and Research, a Pleasanton, California-based research and consulting firm.

Identity-theft complaints involving landlines, mobile phones, medical services, insurance, and apartment rentals also rose significantly from 2016 to 2017, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

To better safeguard your financial life, you should monitor or lock down when possible other consumer reports that detail your banking, utility, and insurance history. Here are the ones you need to know about, and here’s how to respond. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides a complete list of consumer reporting companies.

Freeze now

If you are not in the process of purchasing a property or do not use your credit often, we recommend contacting and freezing your reports at the three major credit agencies EquiFax, TransUnion and Experian.

You should also request a freezing report from each at Innovis, ChexSystems and the National Consumer Telecommunications & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE). You should also request a free report from each to check for any errors every 12 months.

  • Innovis provides information to help companies detect and prevent fraud. You can get your free report at innovis.com/personal/creditReport and request a security freeze at innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze.
  • ChexSystems reports information on checking account applications and histories. Banks and credit unions use these reports to determine whether to approve a new bank account. To get your free report and request a freeze, go to the company website at chexsystems.com and click “Free FACTA Report” and “Security Freeze Information.”
  • NCTUE collects telecom, pay-TV and utility-connection requests, account payment histories, defaults, and fraudulent accounts. Get your free report and request a freeze at www.nctue.com/Consumers.

Consider a freeze; monitor regularly

CoreLogic Credco, LexixNexis and SageStream provide supplemental consumer reports to lenders, retailers, utilities and phone service providers among others. These reports can include property data, tax payment status, rental applications, collection accounts, bankruptcies, liens, judgments and child support obligations. Request a copy of your report annually and consider a freeze if you want added protection.

Freeze when applicable; monitor regularly

Several companies collect information on payday loans, check-cashing services, rent-to-own transactions, and other alternative financial products that cater to lower-income or subprime consumers.

You should get a free report each year from these companies even if you haven’t used one of these products.

You want to make sure no one has obtained one of these financial products illegally in your name.

If you have used these products before and have a legitimate report, freeze it to prevent fraudsters from opening new payday loans or other alternative financial products in your name. You can freeze your report at Clarity Services, CoreLogic Teletrack FactorTrust, and MicroBilt/PRBC.

Monitor regularly

These companies provide check-screening or verification services for retailers, financial institutions, home improvement professionals, auto repair shops, medical and dental offices, among other businesses. You can’t freeze these reports, but you should request a free copy every year to check for inaccuracy and unauthorized accounts.

Monitor when needed

If a potential employer requires a background check before hiring, ask for the name of the screening company and request a copy of the report to fact check. Common employment screening companies include:

Find out which tenant screening company a potential landlord uses and request a copy of the report. Common ones include:




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