Credit report has become the main focus of attention in the fight against identity theft and fraud detection. As I continue to write articles about identity theft hoping to increase consumer awareness about the significance of this crime and how to fight it, I can’t stop being shocked and awed about the focus of all advertisers and solution providers on the internet in the fight against identity theft. If you look around carefully on the Internet and read about the solutions provided to fight identity theft, the majority of services offer copies of your report or credit monitoring services. Although I fully agree that we have to check and monitor our credit reports to detect any potential and unauthorized use of our identity to setup new accounts or change the terms of the existing ones, report monitoring should be part of the overall strategy. It appears that the major focus in the fight against identity theft is "detection" rather than "prevention" and less to do with consumer risk awareness and education such as the dangers of owning too many credit cards or excessive information sharing. Like I said, I agree that timely credit fraud detection through report monitoring and our subsequent actions will put a stop to the unauthorized use of our stolen identity, but it should not be the major focus of our identity protection efforts but rather a part of the overall solution strategy which is to reduce its occurrence in the first place. This way, our focus will shift from defensive damage control to offensive prevention.
In addition, report monitoring will not help consumers detect the unauthorized use of their existing accounts or employment fraud. Consumers most likely will detect unauthorized charges on the existing accounts when they review their online account activities or periodic account statements. It is recommended that you review your account activities online to detect and clear any unauthorized transaction faster. Another advantage of online account review is that if your mails were being illegally forwarded to some other place due to an address change at the post office, you will not detect the unauthorized charges through the review of your statement because you will not get your statement, but rather you will detect the fraud when you review your account online or the bank contacts you to ask for a prompt payment of all charges. You must remember that your liability for unauthorized charges is limited only when you contact the bank promptly within a predefined period upon the discovery of unauthorized charges on your statement. Otherwise, you might be responsible for all charges.
As stated, medical identity theft, employment identity theft and other crimes may not be detected through a review of your credit report unless of course such fraud and criminal acts lead to financial and credit consequences reflected in your credit report.
That being said, learn all you can about your report, what information it includes or excludes, how it can be used to detect identity theft, how to check its content, how to monitor changes in your credit records, how often, what to look for, and what to do after you detect an unauthorized activity. Sign up for a service to help you manage and automate the credit monitoring and change notification process, which should be part of an overall strategy and not the main focus in the fight against this crime.
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