Credit reports and identity theft
Financial Literacy Month: Week 4
Have you reviewed your credit report in the past 12 months? You can receive a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Your credit report is a record of your borrowing and repayment history. Your credit report leads to your credit score — the number used by lenders to determine how much of a risk you pose with money they may choose to lend you.
Knowing what’s on your credit report is essential. We recommend reviewing your credit report at least once a year to identify possible mistakes that may lower your credit score.
Two of the easiest ways to build strong credit are: (1) paying your bills on time, and (2) limiting your use of credit. Student loans appear on your credit report, even if payments are not yet due. Making student loan payments before the due dates can help you establish a habit of paying on time and can help build positive credit history.
A high credit score means you are more likely to be approved for credit and may enable you to borrow at a lower interest rate, too.
The credit score is based on many variables, but the biggest factor is timely payments. Being 30 days late on a payment could cause your score to drop substantially. Visit iGrad for a quick read about late payments and credit, and to learn more tips.
Another reliable resource to learn more about what affects your credit history is the Fair Isaac Corp website at myfico.com.
When you pull your credit report, review your entire credit history. If you see an account that doesn’t belong to you, it could be the result of a computer mistake, or maybe someone stole your information and opened an account.
Identity theft has been a growing crime the past few years and could negatively affect your credit. It may take time and a substantial effort to get your credit fixed.
Protect your Social Security number
Protecting yourself from identity theft requires being mindful of your personal information, especially your Social Security number (SSN). Your SSN is requested when you apply for credit, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for government benefits.
Most organizations will not request your SSN over the telephone. If you are asked to disclose your SSN, think about how the organization may use the number and if the request is valid. Many identity thieves pose as a legitimate party and contact you seeking personal information.
For example, if a representative from your bank calls you, he or she will have your personal information already and will not ask for it. The Federal Trade Commission provides beneficial information about how to prevent identity theft on its website.
Protecting yourself online
Be careful on the Internet. Your online activity makes it easy for hackers to access your personal information, such as passwords.
Security experts suggest using different passwords for all of your accounts, and using the strongest possible passwords. For more tips, go to the partnership between the federal government and the technology industry.
We require the organizations we work with to comply with our information security policies. We take protecting your personal information seriously.
iGrad is a registered trademark of iGrad Inc.
The iGrad website is for information and convenience only. The views and opinions of authors expressed therein do not necessarily state or reflect those of University of Phoenix and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes. When you select a link, you are subject to the privacy and security policies of the owner/sponsor of that website. Please note that University of Phoenix does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information contained on the iGrad website or any linked website. Additionally, reference to any specific commercial product, process, service, manufacturer or company does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation or favoring by University of Phoenix.