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The 3 Step Process
July 31, 2013
Starting with this edition of Identity Management Journal, we are initiating a 3 course series which will guide consumers in their efforts to prevent and detect identity theft with 3 easy techniques. Of course identity theft like any other crime can never be fully contained however, we have determined that these 3 simple techniques when effectively applied in concert with each other offer the most comprehensive and easy to follow process which allows individuals to prevent and detect identity theft as much as possible and helps them understand the concept behind a full cycle identity protection effort. The 3 steps are Freeze, Monitor and Review.
The first item in the 3 step identity protection concept is to freeze the credit reports and accounts. When we freeze the consumer credit report, businesses have no longer access to the customer credit report and therefore can not make credit decisions thus preventing the opening of new accounts with stolen identities. The freeze is much more reliable and different than fraud alerts for many reasons including impact on the speed to obtain credit, cost, placement and removal from the credit reports. We will discuss these in more detail in the next edition. Also, freezing unused accounts is a great way to prevent identity theft. You may have some accounts that you need to leave open but do not use very often due to travel or other reasons. In some cases, you may request to freeze these accounts or place temporary flags such as a travel flag to prevent fraud.
The second item is monitoring credit reports and accounts. We all have various accounts and identity components such as credit cards, insurance, date of birth, and other personal information that we need to monitor. There are many automated services that can help us monitor some of our personal information but there are other pieces that we have to take responsibility for such as monitoring checking, savings, utility, credit card, retirement and other account activities. You can read about a few reviews we have performed for automated monitoring services. Also, some financial accounts offer features which when activated will notify you regarding changes in your accounts. For example, debit and credit alerts of over certain amounts can be placed on some accounts for immediate notification.
The third and last item in the 3 step identity protection process is reviewing the alerts that you receive from automated services and accounts that you have activated, or the suspicious items you have noticed in your accounts. In such cases, you need to carefully review the items and promptly follow up to determine the best course of action such as closing the accounts, disputing the charges, and any other necessary actions. The credit report monitoring services report changes on your credit reports but you still have to review the changes to determine if they are fraud related.
We will cover these 3 steps in more detail in future editions.
Until next time, be identity safe,
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