We have to make sure we are monitoring our identities any way that we can to make sure that we detect any sign of identity theft and fraud on a timely basis. In this article, we continue our discussions around the 3 step process for identity theft protection, with the second step which is around identity monitoring online, offline, using automated tools and manually.
In the first step of the 3 step identity theft protection process, we discussed blocking our information whenever possible to make sure that if an unauthorized transaction was initiated under our name such as if someone applied for a credit card or loan, the transaction can not be approved by the creditors because they will not be able to review our credit information, or, if someone tried to use an existing account, it will be unsuccessful because we have frozen the account.
Now let’s talk about monitoring our identities. Although many automated services monitor and report activities related to our credit reports and new accounts, we have to monitor our identities in all areas of our lives such as existing accounts whether financial or non-financial, medical, utility and insurance. Although financial identity fraud is the most frequent and biggest threat, we can not underestimate fraud consequences in other areas such as cell phone, medical, and insurances. Sometimes, these non-financial fraud cases can have devastating consequences such as huge bills and even sickness or death in case of medical identity theft where medical file information may be altered. Therefore, although automated credit report monitoring is a very good start, we have to also pay attention to non-financial areas of our life as well as areas where we can not automate monitoring. That being said, you may now ask, where do we start? Well, to start, sign up for an affordable and comprehensive "automated" identity monitoring service which sends you alerts when changes are made to the area which the service is monitoring whether it is your credit report or new credit transactions.
Next, activate account alert features whenever possible. For example, some banks allow their customers to receive email or text alerts for deposits and withdrawals of certain amounts and whenever a change hits the account such as address or password change. This feature is very important and must not be overlooked. This will allow for timely detection of fraud within existing accounts.
And lastly, review your account statements and activities online or offline whichever is available and offers the best approach for timely review of changes and detection of fraud. Make sure you review all insurance claim statements, phone and other bills even if you have setup automatic bill payments because what you assume to be the amount due may not be what is on your statement which can result in additional late fees, interest, and fraud responsibility.