Cetroyer contributed this article for Peeve Week.
Ever get frustrated by all those credit card offers in the mail? Not only does it take up valuable space in your trash can, but each one of those envelopes has the potential of helping someone steal your identity (or at least a credit card or two opened in your name). Speaking of your identity, do you stay up nights worrying if it will be stolen? Take heart, help is near.
I remember being annoyed by all the credit card offers in the mail. I am perfectly happy with my Citicard (good rewards!) and have no need for another card. Spam mail may not get as much publicity as spam email, but it is close. Whenever I hear someone grumble about “getting all this junk mail”, I recommend they call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). Calling this number will allow you to take your name off of the pre-approved credit card list at the credit unions for either two years or permanently. Guess what? Credit card companies tell you about this option, too, believe or not. I was glancing through my last privacy statement from Citicard and they had the number listed in the back. Makes you wonder what other goodies they have hidden in there!
Identity theft hits the news quite often these days. People are worried about their credit being ruined by identity theft, as well they should. But they should worry within reason and take what steps they can to protect themselves. For the overly paranoid, just call your credit card company or bank and ask them for their credit monitoring service. I can just about guarantee that they will have one they are willing to sell you, for between $10-$15 a month. Expensive, but so is insurance.
Now, if you aren’t quite that worried (which is good), it is fairly simple to keep an eye on your credit. For one, keep an eye on your credit card and bank statements. If you have an idea what you spend (or track it with software), you can spot abnormal charges or withdrawals, which will alert you to account theft. Granted, monitoring these won’t help a whole lot if your identity is stolen. That’s where credit reports come in handy. The government recently made it possible for everyone to get one free credit report per year. I tend to check mine twice a year, just to be on the safe side.
It’s fine to be upset about your credit. It’s worth protecting. But don’t just complain about identity theft: go out and protect yourself.