Here’s What You Can Do To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Reputation is important – especially in the financial world.
Unfortunately, identity theft can compromise your financial reputation. Identity thieves use your personal information to obtain credit, loans or commit other kinds of fraud, ruining your credit score in the process.
A credit score is displayed on your credit report. It is a number used by lenders as an indicator of how likely you are to repay your debts and the probability of you defaulting on your loans. This score is a snapshot of your credit condition at a particular point in your life. It varies from time to time, depending on what is reflected in your credit history and how you behave when you use your credit.
Your credit report also displays how you make your monthly payments on your credit card bill. As such, it is a record of your credit payment history that is compiled from banks and major financial institutions.
You can currently obtain your credit report from Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) at S$6.42 per copy.
However, there are a few simple ways you can minimise the risk of identity theft. Here are three steps you can take:
1. Protect your information online
With so many sensitive transactions made online, you’ll want to make sure that your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Here are ways to protect yourself online:
- Use strong passwords. Create complex passwords for your online accounts and avoid using personal information (such as your birthday or NRIC number) in your passwords. Use a different password for each account – this way, if one account is compromised, identity thieves won’t have immediate access to all your other accounts. A password manager can help you generate, manage and remember these passwords for you. And it should go without saying, but you should never, ever use a password like ‘123456’ or ‘qwerty’.
- Watch out for phishing. Phishing happens when a fraudulent website pretends to be a site representing a bank, a business or some other legitimate institution. They do so to trick you into divulging sensitive information. Always make sure that you’re on familiar sites before you give out information like your bank passwords or credit card data.
- Be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Avoid accessing bank accounts or other personal data when connected to a public Wi-Fi network. Doing so might put your information at risk for being intercepted and captured by a third party.
2. Check your bank accounts for irregular activity
While your bank may alert you in the event of suspicious activity on your account, it doesn’t hurt to be vigilant. Monitor your bank account statements regularly so you’ll know when something’s amiss. Look out for unauthorised charges and vendors that you don’t recognise.
If you suspect fraud, you should contact your bank immediately.
3. Use a credit monitoring service
A credit monitoring service, such as CBS’s My Credit Monitor (MCM), can help you combat identity theft by detecting suspicious activities or changes that may affect your credit reputation.
It monitors your credit report by looking out for suspicious activity and notifies you through email or SMS as soon as a lender uploads information into your credit file, helping you spot potential identity fraud as soon as possible.
Here’s why you should consider MCM:
- Prevents identity theft. MCM keeps you informed whenever a perpetrator assumes your identity and applies for credit or skips a payment.
- Puts your mind at ease. You get to safeguard your credit reputation without having to constantly check your credit report on your own.
- Manage your credit reputation. MCM ensures the accuracy of the information uploaded onto your credit file.
Here are the types of email or SMS notification alerts you will receive from MCM:
- Credit enquiry. Enquiries made on your credit report by any lenders in response to your application for a new credit facility. For example:
Enquiry Date : 08/01/2016
Enquirer : CIMB Bank
Enquiry Type : New Application
Product Type : Credit Card
Account Type : Single
- Self-enquiry. When a search has been made on your own credit file.
- Adverse information. Provides and updated status on Bankruptcy Proceedings and Default records.
- Deteriorating Account Status Change. Deteriorating account status assigned to any of your credit facilities (eg. From ‘A’ to ‘B’ status). For example:
Client : ABC Bank
Product Type : Credit Card
Product Reference : 102665
Status Change Date : 07/01/2017
Date Loaded : 08/01/2017
Cycle Account Status : Current: “B” Previous: “A”
Cycle Full Payment Status : Current: “N” Previous: “N”
Cycle Cash Advance Status : Current: “N” Previous: “N”
- Litigation Proceedings. Notifies you when a writ of summon is filed against you.
MCM costs S$29.96 for 6 months or S$48.15 for a year:
|6 months||3 reports||S$29.96|
|12 months||5 reports||S$48.15|
Stay informed. Prevent identity fraud.
By adopting a few simple habits, you can play a big role in protect yourself online. You can fight identity theft and gain peace of mind with monitoring alerts and credit file updates by signing up with MCM today.