When buying a home, your credit score matters. You have probably spent years building your credit score to prove you’re the perfect loan applicant, but are you paying close enough attention to protecting your credit score?
Last year alone, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 4.8 million reports of identity theft and fraud in the United States – up a whopping 45% from 2019. It’s a worrying trend but here at iLENDi we’ve got your back with some tips on how to keep your credit safe from criminals.
Data breaches, identity theft and fraud are the biggest external threats to your credit score. As the recent Accellion breach highlighted, even companies where data security is their businesses aren’t immune from cybercrime and data breaches. COVID-19 created a huge shift to operating online — for working, shopping, banking and more. This has provided new opportunities for hackers who continually evolve smarter, harder-to-detect ways to steal your data.
What is your credit score?
Your credit score indicates to lenders how likely you are to repay your loans on time and in full. Your score is determined by a number of factors, for example your payment history, existing debts and recent loans. A good credit score will help you get the mortgage you want.
Find out more about your credit score.
How to protect your credit score
Practice good data hygiene
This is the kind of thing everyone knows, but few *actually* do:
- Make your passwords strong
- Change your passwords periodically
- Have a different password for each different service
- Never share your passwords with anyone else
- Ensure you promptly update your details if they change – phone numbers, email and addresses
- Enable 2-factor authentication
- Keep devices up-to-date with the latest software
- Check if your email account has been pwned – often this is the start for criminals to get access to your favorite passwords, which in return they can use to steal financial details and take out credit in your name
Monitor your credit score
Keeping an eye on your credit score can alert you to anything amiss, before it escalates. It is a good idea to check your credit score a few times a year. Take advantage of your three FREE annual credit reports — one from each of these credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Use identity theft protection services
No time? Sign up to an identity theft protection service to be alerted to suspicious activity faster. For a low monthly fee, these services use artificial intelligence for monitoring and will let you know if they detect fraudulent activity as well as notifying you of data breaches. Being able to act quickly is key to limiting damage. While no company can guarantee 100% protection from fraud, most of these services also include identity theft insurance to cover the costs of reclaiming your identity.
Be aware of the websites you visit, the emails you click through, things you sign up to and protect your data like it’s a physical asset.
Keep an eye out on protecting your credit to ensure that you are a solid loan applicant when buying your next home.