Detect Identity Theft
The best way to detect identity theft, specifically credit fraud, is to monitor your credit report. Although there are other signs that might signal potential trouble and help you detect fraud such as missed bank statements or denied credit card in a restaurant, the best credit fraud detection tool available today is to monitor your credit report.
Since all major credit related activities are logged in the consumer credit report, monitoring the report is a good way to identify those activities that were not initiated or authorized by you. The question we frequently get asked is how often should I check my credit report to detect identity theft? The answer is it depends on your risk profile. If you are a high risk individual, you want to check your credit information more frequently than someone with a low risk profile. Determining where you stand on the risk profile matrix depends on a few criteria. Take this test and see how safe you are against identity theft.
To receive copies of you credit report or notification of changes made to your credit report, you can sign up for a paid service to automatically get copies of your credit report every so often and/or also get notification of any activity in your report as soon as 24 hours after the activity occurs. The notification will allow you to determine quickly if the activity is related to your own recent transaction such as a loan application or an unauthorized transaction and detect identity fraud immediately.
The benefit of an automated activity notification is that it allows you to address a potential identity theft case rather quickly instead of waiting for the periodic reports to arrive to check the information therein. You may want to consider both; 1) sign up to receive periodic copies of the report like every quarter, and 2) sign up for the activity notification. The underlying logic for signing up for both services is that activity notification allows for quick action and damage control, and receiving period copies of the report acts as backup in case you don’t get the notification. Also, since activity reporting starts from the date of your registration, it's a good idea to review your credit report right after you register for the credit report monitoring service.
You can buy copies of your credit reports and/or credit change notification services from many companies including the 3 main credit-reporting agencies.
You can also order free copies by law to review and detect identity theft