Lesson 6

Monitor Your Identity

With your credit, you can be:


The risks to being negligent include:

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Spend hundreds of hours trying to clear your name.
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Not being able to get a mortgage.
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Losing a job interview because your credit was trashed.
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Getting money stolen from you.
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Not "If" But "When"

Currently, 33% of U.S. adults have suffered from identity theft. It is the fastest growing crime in the U.S.

  • The consequences are devastating.

Surprise! You are in trouble

“I was in college and I heard a friend discuss his credit report. I asked what that was, and he explained it. We then downloaded my credit report. I joked that I probably don’t have one since I have never borrowed any money before. To our surprise, my credit report was 50 pages long! More than one person had been using my identity for over 10 years. After 5 years of painful work – I finally have expunged my record of all the deceit and I have clean credit.”

Fake new job

“I applied to be a quality control inspector from a very respectable looking company. They had great reviews and everything seemed legit. I got the job and then started to get packages in the mail to inspect. Something seemed off, so I began contacting them and realized all of the packages were going back to a small city in Russia. After more investigation, I discovered this company completely stole my identity and was making purchases on credit in my name. After months of headache, I had to get a new tax ID from the IRS.”

No identity left 

“At first I started to notice suspicious activity in my checking account for small charges of $37 or $17.98. I was very busy, so I let it slide. But then it accelerated and I had four charges, totaling $2,800 to $3,200 per day for many days in a row. I closed my existing checking account, opened a new account, and had to sign affidavits every day saying that they were not my charges. The day after I opened a new checking account, I was hit with a $1,100 charge. The bank surmised that my computer had been hacked and malware was tracking all of my new accounts. I felt naked and violated, and didn’t know how to get my identity back.”

Importance of Good Credit

You may think that identity theft is not a big deal for you since you have no money and do not plan on using credit cards, or getting into debt.

This is a big misconception!

Identity theft destroys your credit.

Your credit is something that touches every facet of your life. Regardless of whether you have money or borrow money.

Landlords and sellers choose people with good credit

“We were so excited about this amazing apartment. The landlord loved us and said it was between us and another couple, but we were a “shoo-in” to get it. ‘I just need to run your credit report,’ she said. We never heard from her again.”

No installment plans allowed with bad credit

“I was excited to buy the latest iPhone. The Apple employee ran my credit and said I had to pay cash. I was expecting to pay in monthly payments with no interest, but now I can’t get a phone. I don’t have $700 cash to buy a phone!”

Utility companies want a cosigner, or deposit, if you have bad credit

“I was excited about my first apartment after college. I had a new job and was excited to be an independent adult. That was until I called the utility company to turn on the water and electricity. They ran my credit and demanded that I have my parents co-sign on the account. So much for independence.

Employers prefer people with good credit

“I was working as an independent contractor for a wealth management company. I was being hired as a full-time employee and all HR had to do was run a background check. I got a call the next day from HR saying that they would keep me as an independent contractor since my credit was so bad.”

  • 47% of employers obtain credit reports on applicants as a part of their screening process for some or all positions (2012 Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) survey).

Credit Report Video

Activity: Monitor Your Identity

Complete Activity on PDF Worksheet

Become visible

Become Credit Visible:

  • Credit visibility begins when you have a credit record at a credit bureau.
  • A credit record will be created for a consumer when a tradeline, collection account, or public record is reported to one of the three nationwide credit 3 credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
  • Go to and see if you have a credit report with any of the 3 credit bueaus.
    • You can access your credit report at least once-a-year (or more often if you sign up for a service) through.
  • If you have no credit report, the easiest way to become credit visible is to open up a credit card account.
  • Opening most accounts requires either social security # or ITIN.

Three options if you are denied a basic credit card:

  1. Open a SECURED CARD where you put money down and receive limited rewards while you show you are trustworthy with credit (i.e., pay your full balance each month).
  2. Become an authorized user of your parent’s credit card. 
  3. Sign up for a credit builder loan. You pay back a loan into a savings account. Once a loan is paid back, you have access to a savings amount, which you can transfer into a secured credit card deposit. 


Monitor Your Credit

Look for RED FLAGS.

RED FLAGS on your credit report:

  • Credit accounts you do not recognize.
  • Addresses you do not recognize.
  • Accounts with late, or missing payments, that you know you paid.

            ***If any of these red flags occur, repair your credit report


Explore Identity Theft Insurance.

  • Identity theft insurance is a service where you pay someone else to monitor your credit report and they send you real time alerts whenever your credit report changes.
  • They will also help repair your credit report if someone wrecks it. Given the high risk of identity theft in today’s society, I have found this type of insurance useful (usually around $10-$20 a month).

Fraud Alerts

Add Fraud Alerts

  • Call either Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion and add a fraud alert on your account.
  • One fraud alert with one bureau is sufficient.
  • If you, or someone else, tries to apply for credit in your name, then the lending agency will be unable to open an account without giving you a call.
  • You will receive a call asking for verbal verification that it is OK to open the credit account. You can say “yes” or “no.”


Your credit report is what helps determine your credit score. In the next lesson, we will explore how to proactively improve our credit scores, which will open up more doors to show off our Christ-given generosity.

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