COSTA MESA, Calif., Oct. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 12 million Americans have fallen victim to identity theft, and the total financial loss attributed to identity theft in 2013 is $21 billion so far, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. In recognition of National Protect Your Identity Week (Oct. 20–26), Experian® suggests several ways to proactively monitor credit to identify unauthorized activity and stop possible identity fraud before suffering potential financial loss.
"Identity theft affects more Americans every day," said Maxine Sweet, vice president, Public Education for Experian. "Regular monitoring of a credit report helps keep track of current and closed accounts, negative items and credit inquiries. Suspicious changes to these indicators may be a sign of identity theft and fraud."
Experian recommends using a credit report to:
- Check information — All credit reports include basic personal information. This includes full name and variations, current and past addresses, Social Security number, birth date, spouse's name, and current and previous employers. Misspellings of your name or unknown addresses could be signs of identity theft or that information was reported incorrectly to the credit reporting agency.
- Monitor current accounts — Check items in open accounts, such as auto loans, mortgages and credit cards, to confirm if there is a balance. These accounts may appear "in good standing," reflecting consistent payments, or "delinquent" if payments have not been made on time. Check dates to ensure they accurately reflect when each account was opened or when activity occurred. If there are mistakes, it may be an indication of a fraudulent account or that an unauthorized individual is using an existing account.
- Look at closed accounts — Inactive accounts still can appear on a credit report. Different items remain for varying lengths of time. (Past accounts speak to the length of your credit history and your reliability in paying on time.) If someone hasn't been regularly monitoring for identity theft, checking closed accounts can help to make sure it hasn't already happened.
- Verify negative items — Negative information, such as past-due accounts, court judgments or bankruptcies, can lower a credit score and identify someone as high-risk to potential lenders. If any of these items are incorrect, it could indicate identity fraud.
- Look into all credit inquiries — Credit inquiries indicate who has looked at a credit report (a creditor). Creditors and lenders are interested in the payment history and how often an individual applied for credit. These credit inquiries also can serve as an early warning that identity thieves may be trying to fraudulently open accounts.
Credit monitoring alerts individuals to changes in their credit reports, which is an effective way to identify potential fraud. More information is available at http://www.experian.com.
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.
Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended March 31, 2013, was US$4.7 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 40 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
For more information, visit http://www.experianplc.com.
Experian and the Experian marks used herein are service marks or registered trademarks of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.
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