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More than 16 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2017, a record number. In addition, more than 30 percent of Americans were notified that their sensitive personal data had been exposed to unauthorized persons. A record $16.8 billion was stolen in 2017 via cybercrime. One good way to combat this type of theft is via credit monitoring. However, credit monitoring is but one tool in the arsenal to use against cyber criminals. It’s important to understand what credit monitoring can and cannot detect.
Credit monitoring makes keeping abreast of changes in your credit report easy. Such services send you a message when a change is made to one of your three credit reports. You decide whether these changes are something to be concerned about. Changes can include things like a decrease or increase in your credit score or a new credit entry (like a new credit card account being opened).
However, there are things that can be harmful to your financial health that won’t necessarily show up on your credit report (at least not right away) and thus won’t cause you to be notified by your credit monitoring service. These could include a criminal using your dormant credit card account to rack up thousands of dollars in charges, stealing your checking account information and make withdrawals from that account or filing your income taxes before you do and absconding with your refund.
In addition to letting you know when your credit report changes, credit reporting helps keep you abreast of your credit health, even when they is no crime involved. Most services will also help explain the sometimes-difficult-to-understand entries on the reports, so you know what you’re seeing. Lastly, by regular monitoring of your credit reports, you’ll be better able to see how your financial decisions affect your credit health and, thus, be able to make better financial decisions in the future.
To learn more about what credit monitoring can and cannot do for you and to add credit monitoring to your arsenal of cyber crime defenses, check out our roundup of the best credit monitoring services of 2019.