Man using entering his credit card info into his cellphone.

Credit and Identity Theft Monitoring

Updated June 2, 2022 . AmFam Team

Credit monitoring and identity theft protection are two different ways to protect your personal information. Learn how to monitor and protect your credit.

Protecting your home with a security system and locking your doors when you leave for the day are measures you might take to protect your home from intruders. Credit and identity theft monitoring are a type of “security system” that protects you from intruders gaining access to your personal information. From credit fraud to identity theft, everyone is susceptible to these types of breaches — that’s why it’s so important to defend yourself against them.

Credit monitoring and identity theft protection are two different ways to proactively protect yourself if your personal information gets into the wrong hands. Let’s take a look at the differences and why it’s important to implement them both together.

What is credit monitoring?

Think of credit monitoring as an early warning system that helps prevent additional damage. It involves a service that regularly checks your credit reports, and alerts you of any changes by phone, text or email. It’ll flag several types of activities:

  • Credit limit increases
  • If an authorized user is added to an account
  • If a credit card or loan application is submitted in your name
  • If a new credit card or loan is opened using your identity

This kind of defense gives you the chance to review the accuracy of any change on your credit report and take care of problems before they get out of hand. If you’re alerted and didn’t personally authorize or initiate the “transaction,” assume it’s evidence of identity theft and take immediate action to remedy the situation.

Your credit report affects you in many ways, especially when it comes to mortgage rates, credit card approvals and even apartment applications. Whether you choose a service to monitor your credit or opt to do it yourself, it’s important to have a line of defense in place. Learn about American Family’s exclusive partnership for credit monitoring services with CyberScout, the industry leader in identity and data defense.

How to Protect Your Credit

Monitoring your credit for identity theft helps protect your credit score. If you have a higher credit score, mortgage lenders will offer you lower interest rates, so you can buy property or refinance your home for cash. A good credit score also means better credit card options with benefits like bonus points, minimal fees, and zero or low interest rates. Credit cards, loans and private money lenders may not be available if your credit score drops below a certain level. Keeping an eye on your credit score ensures that you will maximize your savings and avoid long-term consequences.

Monitor Your Credit Reports

You can always choose to monitor your credit on your own by checking your credit report. Did you know that you have access to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies? If you check one every four months, you’ll be able to monitor your credit at no cost. Keep in mind that if you go this route, you won’t have any reminders or alerts, so you’ll need to be diligent about viewing and analyzing the reports.

Check out the three credit reporting agencies to order your reports — remember to stagger them every four months to avoid paying a fee:

Consider Freezing Your Credit

If you see suspicious activity on your credit card statement or credit report, you can freeze your credit to prevent your identity from getting stolen. A credit freeze is a free service that stops new creditors from accessing your credit file and others from opening accounts in your name, until you lift the freeze. The first step you should take is to notify your credit card issuer by calling the number on the back of your card. Next, change your credit card login information including your username, password and PIN to prevent any further charges. After contacting your credit card company, continue to check your credit card statement and credit report for any new signs of fraud and make sure to dispute any unknown charges.

Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports

Placing a fraud alert on your credit report forces creditors to verify your identity before issuing new credit in your name. This makes it harder for someone to open a new credit account using your identity.

What is identity theft fraud protection?

To understand the importance of identity theft fraud protection, first let’s look at the definition of identity theft. Identity theft is a crime where someone takes your personal and/or financial information and uses it without your permission. They’ll use it to make transactions or purchases, obtain credit, services or benefits — anything for their financial gain.

How do people steal your information?

Identity thieves take advantage of technology and use everything from deceptive emails or text messages, social networking, digital public records, hacking into computers or networks, and using information-gathering malware — among other techniques.

American Family’s partnership with CyberScout also offers an identity theft protection service called LifeStages. Though this doesn’t necessarily stop your information from being stolen, LifeStages (Opens in a new tab) provides educational resources, 24/7 access to a CyberScout fraud specialist, proactive services, services to help resolve identity theft and document replacement.

Identity Theft Monitoring

Protecting your identity starts with you. Sure, having a monitoring and recovery service is helpful — but they’ll come in handy once someone has already breached your privacy. Practicing safe habits and taking proactive measures to protect your personal information are key to prevention. Follow these tips to help protect your identity.

Get Extra Protection from Identity Theft with American Family Insurance

If you’re a victim of identity theft, having an identity restoration plan in place is key to restoring your identity — and one way to do this is with identity theft insurance. Monitoring your credit or personal information and having identity theft insurance can give you peace of mind. Connect with your American Family agent to find out how you can add identity theft insurance to your homeowners or renters policy.

This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. You should contact a professional for advice specific to your situation.

This article does not afford or guarantee coverage.

This information represents only a brief description of coverages, is not part of your policy, and is not a promise or guarantee of coverage. If there is any conflict between this information and your policy, the provisions of the policy will prevail. Insurance policy terms and conditions may apply. Exclusions may apply to policies, endorsements, or riders. Coverage may vary by state and may be subject to change. Some products are not available in every state. Please read your policy and contact your agent for assistance.

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