In a 5-part series, Credit 101, Ilyce Glink, an award-winning personal finance columnist and CEO of the financial wellness platform Best Money Moves, details important information you need to know about your credit reports and scores. Create a myEquifax account (at to receive six free Equifax credit reports every 12 months. Watch our video to learn more about how you can help better protect your identity.

Credit 101: A credit education series by Ilyce Glink, ThinkGlink. Brought to you by Equifax.

How can you help better protect yourself against identity theft? The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many new opportunities for identity thieves. While there’s no guaranteed way to avoid identity theft credit monitoring tools and other measures can help minimize its impact. 

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft can occur when someone gains access to your personal information and then uses that information to pose as you for personal gain. This could involve opening up credit or bank accounts in your name, fraudulently claiming your tax return or 2020 CARES Act stimulus payment or otherwise receiving benefits that rightfully belong to you. 

How Can I Spot Signs of ID Theft on My Credit Reports or Financial Statements?

Credit reports can be helpful for spotting potential inaccurate information. When you receive one of your credit reports review it for information that inaccurately represents your credit behavior. Review the section of your report that lists your credit accounts 
to ensure the payment history and balances are accurate for each.

Ensure that there are no credit accounts on your reports that you don’t recognize. Other potential signs of identity theft include:

  • Receiving bills for purchases you did not make or accounts you never established
  • Discovering financial transactions that don’t line up with your purchases
  • Sudden, strange withdrawals from your accounts
  • Calls from collection agencies about unfamiliar debt

How Do I Dispute Inaccuracies or Fraud on My Credit Reports?

If you believe there is inaccurate information on one of your credit reports, file a dispute with the credit reporting agency whose report you’re reviewing. You can generally expect to receive the results of your dispute within 30 days. Be prepared to present any related documents to help support your dispute. 

How Can I Better Protect My Personal Information?

There are no guarantees for preventing ID theft; however certain steps may help. Aim to keep all personal data to yourself whenever possible. Create secure, complex passwords and enable two-step verification when possible.

Finally, stay on top of your credit history to the best of your ability. Credit monitoring tools can alert you to unusual activity on your credit file, to help you respond more quickly to potential threats. 

Equifax is committed to helping consumers at a price that works for them by launching two new, low-cost credit monitoring options. 

Equifax Credit Monitor offers consumers multiple features for only $4.95/month. Features include: 

  • Daily access to your VantageScore 3.0 credit score based on Equifax data 
  • Daily credit score monitoring 
  • Daily access to your Equifax credit report
  • Equifax credit report monitoring with alerts
  • Equifax credit report lock
  • Equifax blocked inquiry alerts 
  • Score Tracking 

Equifax Complete offers credit monitoring & ID theft protection for $9.95/month. Features include: 

  • Daily access to VantageScore 3.0 credit scores based on Equifax data
  • Daily credit score monitoring
  • Daily access to your Equifax credit report
  • Equifax credit report monitoring with alerts
  • Equifax credit report lock 
  • Equifax blocked inquiry alerts
  • Score Tracking 
  • Identity Restoration  

While thieves are always looking for new ways to take advantage of consumers education and credit monitoring can help you better protect yourself. You can read more credit 101 on

Read more from our Credit 101 series: 

Credit 101: What’s in Your Credit Reports? 
Credit 101: How Are Credit Scores Calculated? 
Credit 101: How Can You Help Better Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft?