Concerned about your identity being stolen? Your credit score is a quick and useful metric that can help identify fraud. Learn more here!
Worried about your identity being stolen, or someone committing identity fraud using your name? You’re not alone! It’s a scary prospect and it’s not always easy to know for sure that your identity is safe.
But keeping tabs on your credit score can be a great way to help you recognize early signs of identity theft, or in some cases even fraud. We’ll tell you how.
What Your Credit Score Can Tell You About Identity Theft
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is what it sounds like: a bad guy, through any number of shady tactics, steals information tied to your identity. This might include information like your full name and birthdate, your address, or your Social Insurance Number.
Bad guys might steal this information using tactics like phishing schemes, or malware which steals data or passwords without you realizing.
Using your sensitive information, they may attempt to take out loans or credit cards which can leave you on the hook. This is called identity fraud.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s more responsible to assume that your data is already vulnerable. Think of online shopping: it’s possible the average Canadian has entered their full name, address, and credit card information into dozens of websites—and the security of these sites may not always be up to par.
Changing your passwords regularly, not storing credit card data in online shopping portals, and thinking critically about suspicious emails or texts can help keep bad guys at bay.
But you shouldn’t let your guard down—monitoring your credit score and keeping an eye on your credit file(s) is a second line of defense that can help you stop bad guys in their tracks.
How Identity Theft Affects Your Finances
Identity theft often precedes identity fraud. After stealing your identity information, bad guys may use (or sell) that stolen information to take out loans, credit cards, or other financial products which will be attached to your name.
Identity theft can have serious implications for your finances.
Bad guys don’t tend to pay back loans they’ve fraudulently procured using somebody else’s identity, which means you could end up on the hook for thousands of dollars. Fighting fraudulent debts or charges can take months, and your credit score can tank in the meantime.
Therein lies a ripple effect: identity theft can lead to identity fraud, which can hurt your credit score and damage your own ability to procure a loan or credit for yourself. For people planning to purchase a home, for example, a credit score harmed by identity fraud could be the difference between approval or rejection.
See? ID theft and fraud are not to be messed with.
How Credit Scores Help Spot Identity Fraud
There are no surefire ways to protect yourself from identity theft and identity fraud, but there are ways that you can monitor your credit to help prevent theft. Your identity information could be stolen from anywhere, at any time, by any person. But if that person then applies for a credit card or a loan in Canada using your identity details, there will be a record of it in your credit file.
You have different credit scores and credit history files at both of Canada’s credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion. This is because many companies and lenders have a preferred bureau, and not all report to or perform credit inquiries at both.
But both credit bureaus will show evidence of hard inquiries against your file.
In order to procure a new credit card, loan, or mortgage, lenders will generally perform a “hard inquiry” against your credit file. This is why it’s so important to request a free credit report every year from both bureaus. Go item by item through your credit reports and confirm that all information is correct, and verify that all hard inquiries are meant to be there. If you spot evidence of a hard inquiry that you didn’t initiate, call the credit bureau right away—it could be evidence of ID theft or fraud.
Lots of people don’t know this, but hard inquiries can actually harm your credit score. So if you notice a drop in your credit score, this could be the result of a fraudulent hard inquiry. It could also just be an uptick in credit utilization, or a missed payment—but if all is otherwise well, you should inquire to ensure the drop is not the result of a fraudulent inquiry.
Overwhelmed? It’s cool, we get it. It’s not super fun or sexy to be buddies with the credit bureaus. But we’ve got something that can help.
Help Protect Your Finances & Identify with Mogo
At Mogo, we hate scammers. So we decided to help fight identity fraud by offering both credit score monitoring and identity fraud protection for free to every member who has a Mogo Visa* Platinum Prepaid Card (which is also free, lol).1
We can’t prevent identity theft from happening. But to help nip any subsequent identity fraud in the bud, we monitor your Equifax credit bureau daily for hard inquiries, and our credit score monitoring allows you to see and track your credit score.
We report on your credit score every month, and our monitoring only uses “soft inquiries”, so it won’t hurt your score.
If we find a hard inquiry on your credit file, we’ll send you a push notification right away, and help guide you through the important next steps you can take to help stop criminals in their tracks and prevent identity fraud from happening to you.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only.
*Trademark of Visa International Service Association and used under licence by Peoples Trust Company. Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card is issued by Peoples Trust Company pursuant to licence by Visa Int. and is subject to Terms and Conditions, visit mogo.ca for full details. Your MogoCard balance is not insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). MogoCard means the Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card.
1-Free credit score is provided by Equifax and is only available to MogoAccount holders that have passed identity verification. The Equifax credit score is based on Equifax’s proprietary model and may not be the same score used by third parties to assess your creditworthiness. The provision of this score to you is intended for your own educational use. Third parties will take into consideration other information in addition to a credit score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Equifax® is a registered trademark of Equifax Canada Co., used here under license. No one can prevent all identity fraud and Mogo does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. Currently, Mogo only monitors hard inquiries into the Equifax® Canada Co. credit bureau and will provide push and/or email notifications within 24 hours of the inquiry being reported. Refer to the MogoAccount Terms & Conditions for more information https://www.mogo.ca/terms-and-conditions MogoCard holders will be entitled to receive free MogoProtect identity fraud protection and credit score monitoring so long as they remain active MogoCard holders. If you do not fund your card within 60 days of ordering or make a transaction on your MogoCard for more than 90 days, then you will not be considered “active” and will be opted out of MogoProtect and credit score.
2-To apply for any Mogo product, you must open a MogoAccount and pass identity verification. MogoAccount is currently only available to individuals in Canada (excluding Quebec). MogoProtect identity fraud protection and Credit Score Monitoring are available to all eligible MogoMembers for free for 90 days from the time of initial MogoAccount registration.