Your Money: Monitor your Credit Report

Kathy Sweedler from the economics department of the U of I extension office joins the Morning Show and in this week’s Your Money she’s discussing how to monitor your credit report.

In the last few years, we’ve had data breaches at the IRS, grocery stores, retail stores and now a major credit bureau. While it’s still important to do the best we can to protect our personal data – like our social security number.

One of the best tools we have to spot identity theft that relates to borrowing money is to check our credit reports. You need to check your report from each of the three credit bureaus for it to be effective. · You can check them free once a year at

With the amount of data breaches you lately, you may want to pay to see them more often. Each time you check, it will cost approximately $10-$15. If you checked all three, three times a year, it would cost you $108 (assuming $12 per time per report).

It’s always a personal decision. Credit monitoring systems will alert you to a change in your credit report. For example, if there’s a request for a new credit card, the system will notify you.

It does not stop identity theft from happening, but you may be able to minimize the damage by acting promptly to stop it. The disadvantages of credit monitoring is it can be expensive: typically $120-$200 a year.

Even when you get a year free, such as what Equifax is now offering to people impacted by their data breach, you do give them permission to use your personal information for more marketing.

If your social security number is part of a data breach, you can place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report. Report this to one of the credit bureaus and it will apply to all three. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit, so it may try to contact you. Plus, you get a free credit report from each bureau. You can renew the fraud alert after 90 days.

Also, check your financial accounts regularly. Make sure everything looks accurate.


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