We all know someone who has gotten his or her wallet stolen or perhaps it has happened to you. If your credit card is stolen or you are nervous about identity theft, you can file a report or place a fraud alert with the three credit agencies: www.experian.com, www.transunion.com, or www.equifax.com. You do not need the credit insurance that they tend to offer. It is an unnecessary expensive service, just open your credit card bills and bank statements every month or go online every week to monitor your expenses. If you do experience identity theft, be sure to also visit www.idtheftcenter.org. One final note: if you have not run a credit report in the last twelve months, you can get a free one at www.annualcreditreport.com.
A reader from Tampa gave an excellent suggestion on checking your credit more often without hurting your score:
I also enjoy your newsletter. Thanks for sending. I wanted to let you know something I do with the credit reports that I think is a good system. Every four months I order a credit report from one of the agencies, rotating so I end up with one from each annually. This forces me to monitor my reports on a consistent basis. The day I order it, I check it over, file it and put a note in my calendar for the following year and then check to make sure the next credit report four months from now is already scheduled in my book.
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