Go through this exercise with your credit report from all three credit report companies. You can access reports via AnnualCreditReport.com2, which is offering free weekly online reports3 from the three credit bureaus through December 2023.
Report any discrepancies
If the information is wrong (such as a credit card you don't recognize), you'll need to contact both the credit agencies and the company that supplied the misinformation to get it removed. Here are the websites where you can start making your inquiries:
Follow up to ensure the misinformation is corrected
While credit monitoring agencies are required to fix errors, you should confirm the fix didn't fall through the cracks. By law, the credit agencies must respond to inquiries within 30 days. Here is some information7 that will help you file a dispute.
Use your credit report to improve your financial health
A high credit score is the key to getting better interest rates and terms on financial products, like credit cards and mortgage or auto loans. It's also sometimes used to calculate your automobile and home insurance rates, and it potentially could be viewed by an employer or landlord. That's why you want to scrutinize your credit report and get errors fixed promptly.
By regularly reviewing your credit, you can see where there's room to improve your financial habits, such as:
- Always making all your payments on time.
- Staying under your cards' credit utilization rate.
- Not applying for too many cards, especially store cards or others that don't offer benefits.
Take steps to protect yourself from fraud
Fraud can wreak havoc on your life as criminals use your name to open bank or credit card accounts, apply for loans, and even file taxes. While it can happen to anyone, there are some steps you can take to secure your information. Here are four main ones to start with:
- Use strong passwords for all your accounts. One of the most common ways that thieves compromise your accounts is by figuring out your password. To greatly reduce the chances of this happening, choose a complex password that combines digits, letters and special characters — and change your passwords frequently.
- Don't click on links you don't recognize. It's easy to be caught off guard by these scams, known as “phishing," when you click on a link that takes you to a fake website that's ready to capture any information you share.
- Don't give out personal information over the phone. Even if it appears your bank or the IRS is calling you, don't share your Social Security number, password, or PIN codes over the phone. If anyone asks for personal data and you're not sure, hang up and look up the phone number independently so you are sure you're connecting with the right person. And remember: No reputable financial institution — including Synovus — will ever make an unsolicited call, email or text requesting personal information. If someone does, always double-check by calling us back.
- Shred personal papers before recycling them. Whether it's a bank statement or credit card solicitation, there's enough information there to set up a criminal for success. And collect your mail regularly, or — even better —go paperless with electronic statements that save trees (and maybe your identity).
Consider signing up for credit monitoring
Does remembering to regularly scan your credit report sound exhausting? Another option: Choose a service that will do the credit monitoring for you.
For example, as a Synovus Plus, Synovus Inspire, or Synovus Private Wealth customer, you can enroll in complimentary Credit and Identity Protection services. With this service, Synovus will monitor your credit reports and notify you any time any changes are made. Synovus will also scan the web to make sure your personal information hasn't been compromised by checking websites, blogs, peer-to-peer networks. Synovus also offers full-service identity restoration if you become a victim of identity theft.
Want to know more about how you can achieve peace of mind as a Synovus customer? Get your personal code by talking with your Synovus advisor and then enroll here.