Recently a friend was concerned about her credit after several new credit cards arrived in the mail. The credit cards were for various companies and the consumer had never applied for any of them. Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit.
Credit cards arriving in the mail are a red flag that your identity has been stolen. With credit monitoring and identity protection, the consumer would have received an alert that applications for the cards were submitted to the credit reporting agencies. Unfortunately in this instance, the consumer did not have credit monitoring. By the time the cards arrived in the mail, a lot of damage had already been done.
Identity thieves can rack up huge bills on newly opened accounts before the cards ever even arrive to you. Sometimes the cards can be opened in-store and used immediately. Other times, a store will issue you a temporary card number that can be used until your actual card arrives.
The gap in time is why credit and identity monitoring works in this case. While it is very difficult – if not impossible – to prevent identity theft altogether, you can greatly reduce the impact of the crime simply by monitoring your credit regularly