Well, it looks like I wasn’t alone with my financial troubles this month. Three people have been accused of running the largest identity theft in history – more than 30,000 people had their credit information stolen.
I caught a portion of the story just a minute ago on Good Morning America. The scary part is the U.S. District Attorney could offer little in new information to protect yourself from this crime. So here’s my two cents:
Get your credit report from ALL THREE of the major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This will provide you with the most comprehensive picture of your current credit history. I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll point it out again – if you’ve got good credit get yourself an American Express card. If you already have one go here: http://www.americanexpress.com/creditsecure
Credit Secure through America Express will provide you with DAILY monitoring of your credit accounts AND a quarterly report from ALL THREE of the credit reporting agencies. Other credit card carriers might have similar services, but I am not familiar with them.
The key thing is to know your credit history and check it at least four times a year. According to Good Morning America some people are victims of identity fraud almost two years before they discover a problem.
In one month someone purchased over $25k worth of stuff using my name. Imagine what two years might have been like.
UPDATE – Another suggestion I forgot to mention. I keep a lamenated wallet card with any important phone number (medical contacts, credit card 800#s, etc) on me at all times. I also have a detailed phone list in my home so I don’t have to rummage through bank & card statements in the event of fraud. That saved me a lot of time earlier this month.