Simple Steps to Monitor, Defend Your Credit

You can track some credit reports with free tools from Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, but for-pay services may be worthwhile.

Staying on top of your credit reports is a crucial step in spotting identity theft. At www.annualcreditreport.com, you can get a free credit report from each of the major credit agencies—Equifax, Experian and Trans­Union—once per year. (Some states allow for an additional free report each year.) When you review the reports, look for red flags: credit card, bank or loan accounts that you never opened; an account in collection that isn’t yours; or a home address where you never lived. (See Take Charge of Your Credit.)

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Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.