AAA Washington members get free access to Experian to prevent fraud
Identity theft and cybercrime are real threats to your finances, credit score and wellbeing. And, if it happens to you, it can be a nightmare to sort out.
That’s why one of the best perks of being a AAA Washington member is that you automatically qualify for free ID theft protection through the credit bureau Experian. That’s right. All AAA Washington members get free ID theft protection.
As a member, all you need to do is enroll for the benefit. Any AAA Washington member qualifies for:
- Free credit monitoring by Experian;
- Free assistance with canceling credit and debit cards with one call if you lose a purse or wallet;
- Free fraud resolution support if you are the victim of identity theft and need help restoring your identity;
- Additionally, AAA Washington Premium members automatically qualify for up to $10,000 in Identity theft insurance that will reimburse you if your money is stolen out of an account.
Tip: Interested in becoming a AAA Washington member? Join here.
Why is it important to keep a good credit score?
Maintaining a good credit score is vitally important for obtaining loans, renting apartments, refinancing mortgages and buying cars. Usually, if you have a low credit score, you have to pay a significantly higher interest rates on a mortgage, auto or personal loan. You can also be denied the loan entirely.
AAA Washington’s identity theft benefit can help members maintain their credit scores in four major ways:
- It can detect or block fraudulent charges. The fastest way to lower your credit score is to rack up a lot of debts, max out credit cards and start missing payments. Victims of identity theft are often unaware that a person has opened new credit card lines in their name and made charges.
- If you are the victim of identity theft, you will have access to a fraud resolution professional to assist you with problems that are lowering your credit score.
- You will receive a full credit report on enrollment that will explain your open and closed accounts, payment history and other key information that can help you pinpoint what is affecting your credit score.
- With Experian’s upgraded plans, you can also directly monitor your credit score, and receive alerts if it goes up and down. You can see the impact on your score if you’ve missed any bill payments, maxed out your credit cards or have too many unused lines of credit.
Are you at risk for identity theft?
Yes, unfortunately. Millions of U.S. citizens are victims of identity theft each year. In 2018, for example, an estimated 23 million people or nearly one in 10 people age 16 or older were victims of identity theft, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Justice survey.
That 2021 survey further reported that 90% of identity theft victims experienced a problem with the misuse of a credit card or bank account, and the monetary losses across all incidents of identity theft totaled $15.1 billion in 2018.
What is identity theft?
Cybercriminals use a lot of methods to get hold of your personal information. One direct way, frankly, is to take some of your mail. New or discarded mail can contain private information that can be used to steal your identity.
Other methods include:
- Hacking into your computer or phone and getting hold of passwords;
- Asking you via a scam email attachment or link to enter your personal information in return for an offer or free service;
- Sending a text message that asks you for your social security number and address in return for a package or free gift.
What are some signs of identity theft?
Unfortunately, people often don’t discover they have been a victim of identity theft until the damage is done. You might start getting billing statements for purchases that you didn’t make on a credit card. You could get denied for a loan for no apparent reason, or you might start receiving calls from a debt collection agency. The problem is that these warning signs might come days or weeks after the crime.
How Does Theft Protection Work?
Experian offers three plans for AAA Washington members: Essential, Deluxe and Platinum. The Essential plan is free to all members, while the Deluxe and Platinum plans are offered for a monthly discounted subscription fee.
Al these plans include credit and key account monitoring to detect any suspicious activity early on. Experian’s upgraded plans do deeper and wider monitoring, as well as provide additional services and beefed-up insurance coverage.
Some of the additional benefits of the upgraded plans include:
- Credit score tracking;
- Dark web surveillance of the Internet where personal information is often shared or sold by anonymous users;
- Up to $1 million in identity theft insurance that will reimburse you for losses, legal fees and electronic fund transfers.
5 Ways to Minimize Your Risk
Aside from theft protection, there are some other ways that you can minimize the risk of getting hacked and having your identity stolen.
These steps include:
- Reduce the amount of physical mail coming to your address. Mail often contains personal information, and it can be easily stolen out of a mailbox or harvested from a recycling bin or the trash. Switch to digital statements and online bill paying, and shred any physical mail before recycling it.
- Do not open email attachments. These can contain malware that can lead to your personal information getting stolen.
- Use several unique, strong passwords. Avoid the temptation to use the same password for multiple accounts on your computers and devices.
- Do not follow links or respond to text messages that request that you enter your social security number and other information in exchange for a free gift or service.
- Use two-step verification to open key applications on your home and work computers. For example, once you enter your password, a specific code will be sent to your mobile phone, which you will need to enter before you can access your email or documents.
AAA Washington’s ID protection benefit is a great way to protect yourself from identity theft and cybercrime. Find more information about AAA Washington’s theft protection benefit here. Interested in becoming a AAA Washington member? Click here to join AAA Washington or renew your current membership.
—Written by AAA Washington staff.
—Top photo: AdobeStock