Are you on top of your credit report?

A friend received a solicitation from a credit monitoring agency that offered to keep on top of her credit report for $300 / year.  Although I’m as sensitive to the risk of identity theft as anyone outside the ranks of security professionals, I also know there’s a lot of fun to be had for $300 a year.  That’s almost the annual cost of a cat!

In the ensuing conversation, it became obvious that my friend was not aware she could get a free credit report from each of the three monitoring agencies every year.  The website that provides this service is: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp (You have to order the free reports from this site; you will be charged for reports from the individual reporting bureaus’ websites. You also have to pay to see your actual credit score, rather than just your account information, total debt ratio, and payment history.)  What you do about what you see in your report is outside my skill set.  However, I can help you stay on top of the situation without too much remembering.

The trick to getting cheaper-than-$300 year-round coverage is to order one report from one agency every four months.  Four months later, order a report from the next agency, and so on, and you’ll never be too far from having looked at what the agencies know about you.

Either a paper-tickler file reminder or a repeating Task (Outlook), scheduled to recur every four months, can be used as a reminder to go out to the site and look.  Because the site tracks your visits, it can be helpful to note the actual date of your report in the Task’s Note field (or on your 3×5 card) so that you wait 366 days for the next one from that agency.

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