Check Your Free Credit Report!

I recently received a letter from BNY Mellon Shareowner Services, a company I've used for Dividend Reinvestment Plans or DRIPS's as they're called in the Wall Street world. The letter alerted me to the fact that some backup data tapes had been lost during a transfer to an off-site storage facility. These tapes contained some of my personal data such as name, address and Social Security #. While Mellon claimed they did not believe my data would be accessed or misused (not sure how they determined this), they extended the offer to all those impacted to receive 3 free months of a credit-monitoring service. This would safeguard people from potential identity theft, by allowing them to monitor the credit reporting agency's data on them, just in case you started seeing strange credit card charges for thousands of dollars from a strip joint that you didn't make...ok, bad example but you catch my drift...

One of the biggest concepts in becoming wealthy or "getting ahead" is not only knowing where your money is coming from, but also knowing where it's going to. That means the tedious task of figuring out all your monthly bills/expenses and other "money-takers", so you know exactly what sort of spending you're doing. Another thing we all neglect to do thinking we're all good, is checking out or credit report on a regular basis. Some avoid them out of shear terror, while others just assume everything is going alright. Your credit is a big deal though especially with the recent mortgage foreclosure and bank scrutiny against loans. Financial pundit Suze Orman says you'll need an even better credit score than before to even be considered for a new home loan. And as you can see from my brief tale above, identity theft is definitely a big thing to watch for these days. There's all sorts of Paypal, eBay, banking and credit card scams and phishing going on online. Also when data's lost or your social security number is taken, that can spell potential trouble. We've all seen the commercials about the guy who has to work in a seaside fish restaurant because his identity was stolen. He recommends in his catchy tune that you get your free credit report. According to the letter I receieved from BNY Mellon, you can check your report free of charge once every 12 months.

To get yourself a free copy of your credit report simply visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Check it out, see the good, the bad and possibly the ugly. It will take about 7 years to fix some of the worst mistakes such as late payments made to credit cards, but you can get a good idea of how you rank credit-wise and insure that nothing malicious is going on behind your back.

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