When our credit card information became at risk of being stolen and misused due to a security breach at Home Depot, we applied for and received a free Equifax Credit Protection Plan. The only thing was I wasn’t sure what we needed to set up or do once we had an id and password. We knew we wanted to pounce on any inexplicable changes in our Credit Score, though, so one of the first features I evaluated was how to set up the credit score monitoring alert system for our Equifax account.
What Does Equifax Mean By “Credit Score Monitoring?” and What Types of Fraud Will You Get Warned About
If you’re like me, you’ve never cared very much about your credit score because you’ve always paid your bills on time in full. So I wasn’t even sure what we are talking about.
Equifax provided this list of information on their website. They said you will be alerted to the following items that might change your credit report or might indicate someone is posing as you and trying to put your name on their bills.
- A request to change an account.
For example, a fraudster posing as you might ask to increase a credit limit on a credit card before using it to make huge purchases; or they might ask to change the address for the card’s bills to delay you finding out about the identity theft. While they don’t ask Equifax to do these things, the credit card issuer may report the increase in credit limit to Equifax or may contact Equifax to provide an updated address for you.
- A request for a new account.
For example, a fraudster might try to open a new credit card posing as you. The new card will be reported on your list of credit cards from Equifax.
- A request to change a name or address.
For example, a fraudster could be trying to change the address for you on your file before applying for a new credit card using your name and id but asking for it to be mailed to his/her address. Then when, say, AMEX checks your credit file the address matches the one on the new card application form. You, of course, won’t know he/she applied for this card because it won’t arrive at your home but instead at the fraudster’s home.
- An inquiry is made about your credit rating.
For example, a fraudster posing as you might be trying to buy a new car using your id to get a car loan. The car dealership will probably make an inquiry about your credit report. This inquiry is reported on your Equifax report. If you didn’t authorize the dealership to make an inquiry, you should find out who did!
- If a (new) collection agency reports it is trying to get owed money from you or if there is a change in the amount of money an existing collection agency is already trying to collect from you.
For example, if a fraudster signs up for a loan or credit card using your id, and doesn’t pay the bill, the bill will get sent to a collection agency. They will then start looking for you for payment.
- If a new lawsuit, lien or judgment is made against you.
For example, the fraudster might get his car fixed posing as you, and then drive off without paying the bill. The mechanic might get a judgment in small claims court against you.
- If a bankruptcy is added to your file.
For example, the fraudster might declare a false bankruptcy while using your id and posing as you.
How to Customize your Equifax Credit Monitoring Alert Settings
- Sign in to your Equifax account.
- Click on the Alerts tab.
- Click on the link: Edit alert preferences.
- For the line Credit Monitoring Alert Settings, click on the link with the down facing arrow: Edit.
The Customize Your Alert Settings section
- There are two choices in the Send me an Alert section.
You can choose to receive an alert by email when
- My credit report has not changed in the past month (no news is good news)
- I have a new report available.By default, both of these are selected.
If you don’t want to receive an email for these items, click on the check box to remove the check mark.
- There are three choices in the Score section.
You can choose any or all of these options to send you an email when:
- Score rises above, below or meets this new score. You must type in the new score of interest.
- Score increases or decreases by ___ points. The default is 20 points. You can type in your own choice of value.
- Score risk rate changes.
- To choose to receive an email alert for any of the three circumstances, click on the check box to create a check mark.
By default, you will receive an email if your credit score increases or decreases by 20 points.
- I clicked to receive an email if my score drops below the current score, and I typed in my current score. (You can check your current score by clicking on the Dashboard tab.)
I expect to therefore receive at least one email because it’s supposed to notify me if my score “meets this new score.” We’ll see.
- I used the default setting to receive a notice if my score increases or decreases by 20 points. I can’t see why it should move unless a fraudster is involved so that seems reasonable.
- I don’t know what a “score risk rate” is! So I checked to select that alert figuring too much information is better than too little.
- Click on the Update button.
Nothing actually happens although it appears to transmit some info. The page I’m viewing stays the same.
- Click on the Sign Out link.
- Clear your browser cache and close your browser session.
While You Wait
Isn’t it wonderful brooding about all the ways your good financial name can be besmirched while you wait for an email to warn you the game’s begun?
Still, being a cynical optimist, I am hoping the only email I receive from Equifax will be one begging me to pay them money for unneeded services.
- What to Do to Protect Yourself from Fraud or Identity Theft Caused by the Home Depot Credit Card Security Breach
- How to Setup my Equifax Premier Account with my Home Depot Security Code
Are you part of the Home Depot Club? Have you received any unpleasant email notes from Equifax yet? Please share your experiences with a comment.