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High Credit Score Raises Your Vulnerability to Identity Theft

by Barbara Marquand

Pat yourself on the back for managing your finances well if you have a high credit score. Then get ready to go on the defense.

As a credit-worthy consumer, you're more likely to become a victim of identity theft than people with low credit scores, according to a study released in June by Experian.

Higher the Credit Score: Greater the Identity Theft Risk

In an analysis of credit scores and incidents of identity theft, the credit-reporting bureau found a direct relationship between credit-worthiness and identity theft rates. Almost half--48 percent--of detected identity fraud occurred in the top 20 percent of the credit scoring sample population--those with a U.S. VantageScore of 815 and higher. Those with credit scores in the top 10 percent--scores of 881 and above--experienced almost 30 percent of detected identity fraud.

The lowest scoring 20 percent--consumers with a VantageScore of 556 and below--experience just 4 percent of identity fraud. The average U.S. VantageScore is 769.

Credit Card Application Approval Rate

Experian's Fraud and Identity Solutions group conducted the study in April and analyzed about 800,000 records originating in 2007 and 2008. The study authors theorized that high credit scoring consumers are more likely to become identity fraud victims because credit applications made in their names are more likely to be approved than those associated with low credit scorers. In other words, a thief's efforts probably won't come to fruition if he tries to get a credit card account in the name of someone with a low credit score because the application will be turned down. Thieves posing as high credit scorers have a greater chance of getting phony applications approved.

Protect Credit Card Information

The bottom line of the study? Everyone should protect themselves from identity theft, but those with high credit scores should be extra vigilant. Follow these tips from Experian:

• Don't give out personal information, like credit card account numbers, over the phone unless you've initiated the call.

• Shred financial documents containing sensitive information, such as credit card bill statements and credit card applications, before you throw them away.

Regular Credit Report Review

• Check your credit reports regularly to monitor them for any trouble, such as the unauthorized opening of accounts in your name. You can get free credit reports once a year from each of the three credit-reporting bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. Your inquiries do not impact your credit score.

Remember, a high credit score opens opportunities for you to get the best interest rates on loans and the best credit card deals. Just make sure thieves can't take advantage of the perks you've worked so hard to earn.

 

Published 02/07/10 (Modified 07/09/14)


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