Your credit score changes monthly, based on several factors that make it up, and it’s normal for your score to move up and down monthly, even by as much as 150 points or more based on your own financial behaviour. Reasons for a big fluctuation include: being close to your credit limit (30% of your credit score is made up of your utilization ratio), missing payments (35% of your credit score is based on making your payments on-time ), or multiple credit checks within a short time period (10% of your score is affected by inquiries).
If you know your financial behaviour hasn’t changed but you see a big drop in your score, it’s smart to look into it. A decline in your score that’s not based on your own financial habits could be an early sign of identity fraud. Don't panic. Here's what to do:
1. Get a full report from Equifax (for free)
Get a full credit report from Equifax. You can get your report for free by filling out their form and faxing or mailing it in. We know, it’s pretty old school, but it’s a relatively easy process, and it’ll give you full insight into your credit activity. When you receive the report, review it, and look for any activity that doesn’t belong to you, like collections or credit trade lines that you didn’t take out. If you spot anything that looks off, contact Equifax and let them know right away.
2. Look at your credit card statements and bank account activity
It’s also important to review your bank account and credit card transaction history. Again, look for any transactions you did not authorize and report any issues to your bank or credit card company right away. Cancel any cards that could be compromised, and change any passwords and PINs to accounts you think could be affected.
3. If you find something suspicious, report it to the authorities
Contact your local police and file a report. You should also report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
4. Continue to monitor your credit score
One of the best ways to avoid fraud is by monitoring your score on a monthly basis. Help protect yourself by keeping a close watch on your credit score (shout out to Mogo's free monthly credit score updates). You can also go one step further by subscribing to MogoProtect. MogoProtect helps you protect yourself against identity fraud by monitoring your Equifax credit bureau for inquiries, which happen when your name is submitted to open a new account or complete an application for credit. Learn more here.
If you’ve been affected by identity fraud, and you’ve taken the necessary steps above, you’ve done everything you can for the time being. If it's determined that your score dropped due to identity fraud, it can take several months to improve it. But rest assured, you will see it increase.
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