Whether you are individual trying to obtain finance or a business with many different bank accounts, it is imperative to monitor your credit file, which can often be updated with new information without you knowing about it.
CreditSecure from American Express is a program which allows you to access your credit reports from three different credit reference agencies, and allows you to opt into emails which will notify you every time there has been a change to your credit file.
The service also provides a number of financial resources and other credit information, ideal if you need to run a free background check prior to working with a new business client. Here are some of the benefits and how you can make the most out of this helpful financial tool.
What is Credit Secure?
When making a financial decision, using one credit reference agency to evaluate your credit history is often not enough.
Sometimes lenders only report credit information to one agency, meaning that information may be incomplete or missing when you use a service.
Credit Secure provides you with instant online access to credit reports from the credit reference agencies EquiFax, Experian, and TransUnion, giving you a much more comprehensive overview of your credit history.
You will also be able to receive an email alert every time a lender submits a piece of information to your credit file, such as a new bank account being opened, or a default.
What are the alerts I will receive?
When there is a significant change to your personal or business credit report, you will receive an email alert which can help you to take swift action if you suspect there has been fraudulent activity on one of your accounts. This service has also been beneficial in recognizing identify theft, allowing you take action before your personal details are compromised. You will be able to customize the type of email alerts you receive, and will receive a notification when a new account has been opened, or if information about a court judgment has been added to your credit file.
How do I sign up?
Signing up for the service is quick and easy and within minutes you will be able to view your credit history and PLUS scores, as well as being provided with resources and helpful advice which can help you to improve your understanding of your credit file. CreditSecure works on a subscription basis, with a monthly fee of $14.99, which will be automatically billed to your credit or debit card until you decide to cancel the service. If you do decide to cancel, you will still be able to access your credit history through the service until the end of the billing period, rather than receiving a refund for any fees that have already been paid. All services including access to credit files, credit resources, and the comprehensive background check are included as part of the subscription fee.
All information is safe and secure and because the service takes advantage of a Secure Socket Layer encryption, or SSL, your payments and sensitive credit information are protected. Information about your credit history can be accessed on a variety of different web browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
How Can Credit Monitoring Help My Business?
CreditSecure is an effective service, regardless of the size of your business. You will be able to perform a free background check of any business, and access public records and other important business information. This can help to save you money on the costs involved in acquiring this information from a number of different sources. By reviewing the information provided from the online background check, you will be able to make a financial decision about the best course of action for your business when working with potential clients, and will able you to establish a business relationship based on trust from the off-set.
Will my information be safe?
All information about your financial history that is used to set up your new account, such as verification of your identity, will be kept until your subscription is cancelled, and credit reports will be then removed from the database after 30 days. Information is not sold to third-party companies, ensuring peace of mind when using the service.
3 Important Steps to Make Sure Your Credit Is Secure
Is your credit secure?
If your credit card information or Social Security number winds up in the wrong hands, that person can use your personal data to commit fraud. This is known as identity theft, and it affects more than 9 million American each year.
Protecting your credit is just as vital – if not more vital – than protecting your home and valuables. Identity theft is on the rise, and ensuring your credit is secure can help prevent you from becoming a victim. Follow the steps below to help protect your credit and your identity.
1. Check Your Credit Report
If someone is using your personal information to open new accounts or use your current accounts without your permission, this activity will appear on your credit report. Monitoring your credit history throughout the year will help you pinpoint any errors or potentially fraudulent activity.
Every person is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). These reports can be obtained from annualcreditreport.com. Annual Credit Report is the only website authorized by the government to provide free credit reports. Be wary of other websites that claim to offer free reports as many of them charge monthly fees for credit monitoring services.
You can choose to request all three credit reports at once, or you can spread them out over the year. By spreading out your requests, you can monitor your credit history multiple times throughout the year. When checking over your report, look for errors or inaccuracies. If an unfamiliar account appears on your report, notify the credit agency immediately. You may also consider a security freeze to prevent further damage.
2. Monitor Your Accounts
Keep a close eye on your bank statements and credit card activities. It may seem like a tedious task, but it can help you catch a problem early on before an identity thief does irreparable damage to your credit. Notify your bank or creditor immediately if you find unauthorized purchases and other suspicious activity on your statement.
Credit card companies and banks also allow you to sign up for account alerts. Alerts track your activity. When certain activities occur, notices are sent out via text message or email. For example, if your account balance falls below a certain limit, your bank may send you an alert to notify you of this activity. These alerts may even be able to be customized so you can take control of account monitoring.
3. Keep Private Data Private
This is perhaps the most important step when it comes to securing your credit. Thieves will have a difficult time stealing your identity if they cannot find your personal information.
- Shred all documents that contain personal information. This includes outdated bank statements, credit card statements and any other documents that contain your name, address, social security number of the numbers of any of your financial accounts.
- Go paperless. Use electronic payment options and choose to have your statements sent to you via email rather than traditional mail.
- Never share your ATM pin or bank account login information.
- Create a new password for each of credit card and bank account. Make sure that your password isn’t obvious. For further protection, use a password generator and password vault, such as LastPass, to store your passwords.
- Do not respond to suspicious telephone calls or email inquiries. Banks and credit card companies will never ask for your password or any other personal information when contacting you through email or telephone.
- Report stolen checks and credit cards immediately.
- Verify your mailing address. It is not uncommon for thieves to fill out change of address forms after they have obtained your personal information. Changing your address prevents you from receiving delinquent credit notices.
- Always sign out of accounts when using a public computer.
- Avoid paying your bills or making online purchases while on public or unsecured networks.
- Pay for online purchases with a credit card. Credit cards provide greater consumer protection than debit cards.
If you find yourself a victim of identity theft, there are two measures you can take to prevent further damage: Fraud alerts and credit freezes.
- Fraud alerts force banks and credit card companies to be hesitant about opening an account in your name or approving a credit request. Unfortunately, this measure only goes so far. By law, creditors are only required to take reasonable precautions. Experienced thieves have ways to circumvent these alerts.
- Credit freezes are more effective. They prevent creditors, lenders and banks from accessing your credit information unless you are already a customer. This can be effective, but it will cause issues if you are trying to obtain a credit card, mortgage or student loan.