Credit Campaign, Helpful Tips, Quick Tips

Protecting Your Credit, Do it Yourself or Call in the Pros

October 19, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Question Mark by BuzzbotSuccess | Flickr.comThere seems to be a lot of credit protection companies popping up recently that promise to help you lock down your credit information and protect your identity.

And while these services can be valuable and worth the subscription fees and cash guarantees, there are steps proactive consumers can take to protect their personal credit information and save a few bucks in the process – if you’re up for the challenge.

Here are some options to protect your credit moving forward.

Fraud Alerts – The main step credit protection companies engage is to activate a fraud alert on your credit profile at all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Fraud alerts help notify creditors that they must verify your identity before opening any credit accounts, making it much more challenging (although not impossible) for any credit accounts to be opened in your name.

The good news is you don’t have to pay a company to do it for you. You can activate a fraud alert on your own credit reports for free. Currently there are three types of fraud alerts. 

  1. Three-month fraud alert which credit protection companies facilitate for a fee.
  2. One-year fraud alert for active military consumers.
  3. Seven-year fraud alert if you can prove that your identity has actually been stolen.

The problem, however, is that fraud alerts are temporary and have to be renewed at each of the three main bureaus for each person in your family, depending on which type of alert you activate. This can be difficult to manage if you don’t stay on top of the deadlines.

To create one of these fraud alerts that best fits your needs, contact the three main credit bureaus for more info: Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 or visit www.equifax.com; Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or www.experian.com; and TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 or www.transunion.com.  

Opt Out List After placing a fraud alert on your credit profile, the next step is to request that your name be removed from all pre-approved credit offers and junk mailing lists. Credit protection companies will likely do this for you as part of their paid service, but you can do it yourself by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or you can go to https://www.optoutprescreen.com.

Free Credit Reports and Monitoring – This is where credit protection companies really earn their money. While you have the right to a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year, all subsequent credit reports will cost you.

For a lot of consumers, monitoring their credit report once a year is simply not enough, and credit protection companies that provide more frequent monitoring options as part of their service can create a peace of mind well worth the subscription fee. To get your free annual report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

No Guarantees – The biggest value of credit protection companies is a cash guarantee. After all, when it comes to credit protection, there is no single method to avoid identity or credit theft 100% of the time. With this in mind, some credit protection companies offer a cash guarantee up to a certain amount to fix the errors caused by the failure of their services.

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to protect your credit. And while there are steps you can take to do it yourself, remember one thing: There’s no shame in calling in the pros.

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James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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Comments

2 Responses to “Protecting Your Credit, Do it Yourself or Call in the Pros”
  1. Jim Sims says:

    It is a good idea to have this type of service to show you what your report contains so you can correct or dispute any issues. Review this information thoroughly and dispute anything that in not accurate today. The process to resolve incorrect items on your report may take months or longer.

    Once you have received your report and are working through any discrepancies, it is a good idea to setup a notification process so you know whenever anything new is added. If it is incorrect, you know that much sooner to take care of it.

    These are tips that buyers in today’s real estate market have to be looking at. A credit score of 10-20 points over the last week can be the difference between being approved and denied! And when you are approved, the better your credit score, the better the rate you will receive!

  2. Protecting your credit is even more important ever since the big banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America raised their minimum FICO scores for an FHA insured home loan again as of November 17, 2010. Higher FICO score requirements has been the trend for well over 2 years and is sure to continue for the forseeable future.

    Are you prepared to do what it takes to maintain your credit? If you are unsure or simply need help, make sure to read the blog post Credit Repair Software is Best Solution to Fix Your Credit. http://welcomehomenwi.com/2010/10/credit-repair-software-is-best-solution-to-fix-your-credit.html

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