I think it’s very important for people to be aware of things like identity theft and fraud in this day and age. Oddly enough, help on this front comes from an unlikely source: PayPal.
PayPal has teamed up with Equifax to provide a FREE credit monitoring service to all US PayPal customers. Click on Free Tools on the bottom right of the PayPal page for more information.
Equifax Credit Alerts is a program that helps you protect yourself from identity theft. By signing up to receive Equifax Credit Alerts, you can be notified when someone opens a financial account in your name or when a significant change occurs in one of your existing financial/credit accounts.
This program allows you to set up alerts for financial and credit accounts that you hold outside of PayPal (for example, bank account, credit card account).
It also gives you access to an Identity Theft hotline if you believe your identity has been stolen.
It was quite easy to sign up, but since I had previously established an account with Equifax (a previous credit report check), I had to make sure to update my email address, which was about 7-8 years old.
Another bonus tip: Ignore the Equifax come-ons after you sign up. They will offer you “deals” on getting a credit report and such from them, but you are entitled to a free annual credit report for each one of the three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These are only available through AnnualCreditReport.com, not through any of the pretender sites, so be careful. The super bonus tip is that you can spread the reports out by requesting one every four months. So today, you get Experian’s, four months from now, Equifax’s, and four months after that, TransUnion’s. Then next year, you start all over, giving yourself a good idea of what your credit looks like at any given time.
I ordered Equifax’s freebie, and again ignored their come-ons to get my FICO score with the report. If you wanted your credit score, use one of these methods of getting it for free with a 30-day trial, or just go directly to MyFICO for their free trial. Don’t forget to cancel before the trial ends! You can also estimate your credit score based on the information in the credit report on MyFICO.com. The calculator estimated my score lower than it actually was, but hey, it’s hard to estimate when your score is over 800!
It was good to have the reassurance of “Pays as agreed” and “Account in good standing” on all my accounts. I was a bit surprised to see that I still had an account from when I bought Lisa’s engagement ring on there though, but it’s not affecting anything. Still, good to know who’s keeping tabs on you so you can keep tabs on them.
Both the Equifax/PayPal monitoring and MyFICO ScoreWatch alerted me quickly when inquiries were made. Equifax was quicker by a couple of hours, probably because they’re the actual credit bureau. Both reported my refinancing mortgage company’s inquiry, but only ScoreWatch reported that my score dropped by two points after our Disney bill hit my credit card. Equifax offers a product that would do the same for a similar fee. I could definitely see the use in these products if I was worried about my credit or identity theft, or if I was working on improving my credit score. For now though, I’m sticking with the free stuff.