Tips to help you build a healthy credit history, and keep it safe.
You’ve just parked your car and are headed out for a relaxing walk at a local park. Not wanting to carry your wallet while you’re out on the trail, you leave it in the back seat, behind tinted windows and the perceived safety of a car alarm. When you return, you find one of the tinted windows punched out, with bits and pieces of glass inside and out. No alarm went off because the door wasn’t opened. The wallet is gone.
You’ve just become a victim of auto burglary, and perhaps more costly — identity theft. Today thieves have become increasingly sophisticated (if a thief can rightly be called that!) at “reallocating” your assets. As enticing as cash in your wallet might be, many thieves today are practiced in harvesting, using and selling your identity to cash in on your more valuable credit, or your good credit history. Your credit cards, drivers license and other identification cards can become a thief’s passport to your personal wealth, and their fake credit.
Identity theft is rampant. And it doesn’t just happen with in-person theft. Online thieves are becoming ever more effective at stealing your identity online through your computer, on your smartphone and even at unsecured retail locations. Identity thieves have even figured out how to take a few key pieces of information and file a tax return in your name, claiming your refund before you realize you’ve been hacked.
Your credit history is important
To protect yourself from identity theft losses, it’s wise to regularly monitor your credit history. This history is used to determine whether you can get a loan and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. A poor credit history can impact your ability to rent a home or apartment, get insurance and even land a job. Fortunately, there are a number of valuable resources to help you protect or repair your credit:
Building a better credit report: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a handbook entitled “Building a Better Credit Report.” You can read the report online or download it at http://bit.ly/bettercreditreport
Free annual credit report: Each year, every American can request a free copy of their credit report from three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. There are many websites that offer “free” reports. Often, these come with strings attached. Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under Federal law: annualcreditreport.com. If you find inaccurate information on your credit report, or if you see evidence that someone has been using your credit without your knowledge, report it immediately to your lender, and the credit reporting agency. Disputes can be filed through annualcreditreport.com also.
TwinStar Fraud Prevention Services: This TwinStar Visa Card service screens your card activity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, looking for suspicious activity. If you have travel planned, visit a branch or call TwinStar at 800.258.3115 and let us know when and where you'll be going as some travel may trigger a block on your card. We can update your card information and keep the card from being blocked in error. If your card gets blocked, contact TwinStar Fraud Prevention Services at 866.272.4481 to authenticate the transaction(s) and unblock your card. Toll-free numbers for dozens of countries abroad can be found at TwinStarCU.com.
TwinStar’s Fraud-Defender: TwinStar has partnered with Fraud-Defender for fully-managed identity recovery services if you suspect identity theft for any reason, or your personal information has been compromised. TwinStar checking account holders may choose to have Fraud-Defender added to their accounts for $2.95 per month. Member’s Choice account holders receive Fraud-Defender free. For more information about Fraud Defender, visit TwinStarCU.com/fraud-defender. While identity theft can touch any of us, there are many things you can do to keep your credit, and your hard-earned assets, safe. And you can be assured TwinStar is committed to maintaining the highest levels of security on all of our member accounts. If you have any concerns about the status of your TwinStar accounts, please feel free to contact us at 800-258.3115.
What if I don’t have a credit history?
If you’ve never had a loan or line of credit, TwinStar can help you build a strong credit foundation. It’s a great time to start!
- First auto loans up to $15,000 at a first-time buyer's rate
- First Visa credit card, credit limits starting at $250
- Visa Classic offers a low introductory rate for six months on purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.* Plus there's no annual fee.
Members under 18 years old must have a parent or legal guardian as a co-signer. Apply online at TwinStarCU.com, visit a branch near you, or call 24-hours a day at 1.800.258.3115.
* The fixed introductory rates apply to new Visa accounts opened and new purchases posted to a new Visa account for 180 days from the account open date. Your rate for purchases, cash advances and unpaid balances after the 180-day introductory period will be adjusted to non-introductory rates. Rates are subject to change at any time. All loans on approved credit.