As we’re increasing the amount of time we spend online – shopping, banking, working, and connecting with friends – we’re contributing more and more personal information about ourselves online. Meanwhile, hackers are looking for opportunities to collect this personal information for fraudulent purposes.

Identity theft now impacts more than 15 million consumers every year. So, it’s important to have a process for monitoring your accounts since early detection can make a difference in how easily identity theft can be corrected.

For example, disputing one new credit card account is going to be easier than working through a web of fraudulent accounts, charges, loans, and medical bills. For that reason, you might want to consider making credit and identity monitoring part of your routine.

Understanding Identity Theft

There are two common types of identity theft: account takeover and identity takeover. Account takeover refers to someone gaining unwarranted access to an existing, open account. For example, when a hacker steals your credit card information and makes fraudulent online purchases.

The other type, identity takeover, occurs when someone is opening fraudulent accounts in your name, without your knowledge. This suggests that certain pieces of your personal information have been stolen, such as your Social Security Number. Identity takeover can include opening new loans or credit card accounts in your name.

How to Monitor For Identity Fraud

Identity Monitoring

Identity monitoring services typically alert you when your personal information (bank account, SSN, driver’s license, passport, etc.) is used in an irregular way. Identity monitoring lets you know if your information is paired with a court or arrest record, change of address, check cashing request, or other unusual activities.

Credit Monitoring

When you sign up for credit monitoring, you can usually track activity on your credit report at any of the three bureaus mentioned. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, credit monitoring typically alerts you when:

  • a company checks your credit history
  • your personal information changes
  • a new loan or credit card account is requested using your name
  • your credit limits change
  • a creditor or debt collector says your payment is late
  • public records show a legal judgment against you or you’ve filed for bankruptcy

Monitoring Your Financial Accounts

Reviewing your accounts regularly is an important part of keeping your financial identity safe. Keep tabs on your recent transactions and balances and monitor your credit card accounts. If you notice errors or suspicious activity, you can report and resolve them quickly. Check your credit report annually—at minimum—for any activity that you have not authorized or that appears to be incorrect.

We’re always thinking about the security of our customers. Let us know if you found this post helpful in the comments below! You can learn more about Ally’s approach to security in our Security Center.