Between buying groceries and getting paid, it might feel as if there’s precious little time to spare for your finances — but it’s more important than ever to add credit monitoring to your to-do list.
Like any unexpected problem, fraudulent activity or credit errors can throw a wrench into life’s most carefully laid plans. In fact, in a 2016 Credit Karma study 64 percent of Canadians surveyed said they were concerned about identity theft.
Also, 61 percent of those surveyed in the Credit Karma study said they felt it was essential to periodically review their credit reports, an action that can help you identify fraud. However, 63 percent of these respondents also admitted that they didn’t regularly review their reports.
The takeaway here is that although we know that checking up on our credit scores is important, it doesn’t always get done. That’s where Credit Karma’s credit monitoring feature can help.
Credit Karma’s credit monitoring is a service that monitors its members’ TransUnion credit reports on a daily basis and alerts you if it notices any significant changes. This feature can be of great assistance to help you stay informed about your credit. And the best part is that it’s free!
Sign up for Credit Karma to start receiving free credit monitoring.
Read on to learn more about credit monitoring.
Why it’s important to monitor your credit
There are a couple of major reasons to monitor your credit on a regular basis:
1) At the end of the day, you are responsible for ensuring your credit is accurate and free of fraudulent activity. If you’re only checking your credit when you need it for large purchases or financing, this can give criminals an opportunity to do serious damage.
2) Even if it seems like a hassle, maintaining good credit isn’t optional. You’ll need it for big milestones like buying a house or car, or even for emergency situations that might require a loan or line of credit.
Putting a monitoring service in place is a great way to catch potential issues faster without any additional effort on your part.
How Credit Karma’s credit monitoring helps
If you sign up for Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring service, we will monitor and notify you of noteworthy activity on your TransUnion credit report. If there is an important change to your report, Credit Karma will let you know via email and in your free Credit Karma account.
Credit monitoring can help you identify fraudulent activity and errors in your reports. Along with peace of mind about your credit report accuracy, it can also help you understand how your financial decisions affect your scores.
If you get a notification of a change to your TransUnion report, you’ll be prompted to take a look at the change in your Credit Karma account. You’ll also receive educational materials that can help you address any issues.
If, for example, you receive a new collection alert, you’ll be equipped with information on how to deal with an account in collections.
Note that in order to get credit monitoring services, your account has to be set up to receive email communications from Credit Karma. If you have email notifications turned off, change this setting so we can send you credit monitoring emails.
Already a member? Check your communication preferences to make sure you’re set up to receive credit monitoring alerts.
12 credit report changes that Credit Karma monitors
Currently, there are 12 different alerts that Credit Karma tracks for you. If there is an alert on your account, we’ll let you know.
Here are the 12 credit changes that Credit Karma keeps an eye out for:
Fraud victim alert
Fraud alert: When fraudulent activity is reported and TransUnion places a statement on your report that you have been a victim of criminal credit activity.
New trade alert: When a new account has been opened in your name.
Negative information reported: When a creditor submits negative information such as an account is past due. This indicates a negative mark on your credit.
Improved trade rating alert: When a creditor submits information that your account payment status has improved.
New collection alert: When a debt agency adds a new collection to your file. This alert may include the collection agency name, the original creditor and the total amount you owe.
New bankruptcy alert: When a new bankruptcy is added to your file.
New inquiry alert: When a lender, creditor, potential landlord or employer submits a hard inquiry to review your credit records.
New address alert: When a new address is filed as your current contact information.
New name alert: When a new name is added to your report.
New employment alert: When new employment information is added to your credit profile.
Other filed items
New legal record alert: When a publicly available legal record is filed on your credit report.
New registered item alerts: When registered property items, which are usually part of a secured loan you’ve taken out, are added to your public records. These alerts may include the creditor name.
These are the credit changes that Credit Karma will monitor and notify you about. The sooner you know about changes to your report, the sooner you can correct errors, dispute fraud or understand how your financial decisions affect your scores.
Why your credit score matters
Your credit score isn’t something you typically watch like a weather report. Maintaining a good one, however, is as important as having the right winter gear come January.
A good credit score is one of the most important signals of your trustworthiness as a potential client for banks, mortgage lenders and other businesses. Canadian credit scores are calculated by two major credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion.
These credit bureaus use factors such as the number of credit cards, loans or total debt you have; your payment history; and how long you’ve been using credit to calculate a score between 300 and 900. A high score indicates to potential lenders that you have a history of using credit responsibly.
Quick Tip: There are many ways to actively strengthen your credit health and keep your score at its best: You can pay your bills on time, use credit in moderation, or limit the number of hard credit checks placed in your name.
However, there are also potential issues you need to protect against. It’s important to understand risks to your credit, such as identity and financial fraud. Although there is no guaranteed protection from fraud and identity theft, it’s a smart financial habit to put safeguards in place to try to avoid having them affect your credit scores (and your financial plans) in a serious way.
It’s important to review your scores on a regular basis and stay informed of changes to your credit reports.
But changes can happen at any time, so a credit monitoring service can help you stay informed about your credit at all times. It’s great to feel as if someone has your back when it comes to your credit scores, and Credit Karma does that by helping you monitor your credit.
Sign up for Credit Karma to start receiving free credit monitoring today, and then go ahead and check “smart credit habits” off your to-do list! It might be the easiest thing you’ll accomplish all week.