Unexplained changes in your credit score can signal fraud, but regular monitoring of your credit reports can prevent financial losses.
With the myriad money scams going on these days, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Falling victim to financial fraud not only causes immediate problems such as monetary loss, it can also affect your credit score and create longer lasting problems. How can Singaporeans better protect themselves?
Why Credit Score is Important
When you apply for an unsecured credit facility (i.e., a credit card or a personal loan) from a bank, a check on your credit score will be carried out.
Because your credit report contains all sorts of useful and important information - such as history of missed payments, or the likelihood of you becoming overleveraged, and of course, your credit score - it plays an important part in determining whether you’ll be approved for that personal loan or credit card you need.
Even if you don’t need a loan at the moment, there may come a time when you may need cash in a hurry, such as to pay for a wedding, or to cope with medical emergencies. For credit cards, you may change your mind once you realise that you could be saving thousands of dollars a year.
Additionally, certain professions (notably in finance or public service) require candidates to have a good credit score and history. Thus, there are many reasons to ensure your credit report is in good standing.
But there’s one other way in which your credit score is important, and this is often overlooked.
Because the information in your credit report changes when credit card or personal loan applications are made in your name, your credit score can also alert you when you have fallen victim to financial fraud or other unlawful activities.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Credit Score
A fraudster or malicious person can only affect your credit report when they have access to it, usually by stealing your identity. Therefore, you should always practice good habits to safeguard yourself.
Always protect sensitive information such as personal particulars, online and offline. Make sure to dispose of documents like bank statements and bills properly (use a shredder if you want to be doubly sure), and never give out your personal information over unsafe channels (such as during unverified phone calls, or over the Internet or social media).
We mentioned earlier that your credit report can be another tool you can use to guard against identity theft and all the repercussions that can arise from it. For example, if you see your credit score being downgraded for no reason, or you notice several requests for your credit report all of a sudden, or you start getting marked for late payment when you do not carry any debt, you’ll know something is up.
Here’s what you need to do: Check your credit report regularly for any discrepancies, and report any suspicious activities at once. By disputing any unwanted financial activities as soon as possible, you’ll stand a better chance of stopping the illegal acts.
How Credit Bureau Singapore Can Help Keep You Safe
You don’t need to obsessively check your credit report every other week. But therein lies the problem - it can be easy to neglect checking our reports if we were to do it ourselves. Life gets in the way, or the task simply slips our mind.
There’s a better way. The Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) can automatically check your credit report on your behalf, when you sign up for My Credit Monitor. With this service, you’ll get notifications the moment any changes in your credit report are detected.
If the alerts you receive correspond to actions you have taken yourself (such as applying for a credit card or loan) you can rest easy knowing that all is in order.
However, if you start getting alerts despite not applying for any loans or cards, you should assume that illegal acts are being committed, and reach out to the authorities for help at once.
Other alerts you will receive include those for missed payments, which not only damage your credit score, but also incurs expensive penalties. You will also be notified if there are any litigious actions recorded against you.
Apply for My Credit Monitor
My Credit Monitor is available to all CBS users via subscription. You can choose to subscribe for a 6 or 12 month plan.
Choose a 6-month subscription if you suspect you have been recently targeted by fraudsters and need to keep an eye on your assets. Or, choose a 12-month subscription for year-round monitoring.
Besides notifications whenever any changes are detected, My Credit Monitor also provides copies of your full credit reports for free - you’ll get 3 copies for the 6-month subscription, and 5 copies for the 12-month plan.
This way, you will have your most updated credit report with you, which can shorten your application process and save you precious time.
5% Discount for SingSaver.com.sg Readers
Apply for My Credit Monitor 12-month plan and enjoy a 5% discount, exclusive to SingSaver.com.sg readers. Pay a special rate of just S$42.75 (U.P S$45), when you sign up here.
Protect yourself against sophisticated attacks from hackers and thieves. Subscribe to My Credit Monitor and be secured with instant notifications and up-to-date credit reports.
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By Alevin Chan
A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.