Protecting Your Credit When You Move To The Philippines

Protecting Your Credit When You Move To The Philippines

credit card bill

Get Your Free Credit Report

You should be monitoring your credit, whether or not you are planning to move abroad (because your cat is smarter than you realize). Fortunately it is becoming easier to keep track of your credit and credit score due to the proliferation of services that allow you to do that and many of them are free. 

If you are not already doing so, then you should be getting a copy of your free annual credit report from the big three credit agencies. You can get that same link directly from the Federal Trade Commission. As the name states, you are entitled under federal law to receive one free report once annually. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outlines some special circumstances that also allow you to gain access to free credit reports, such as Fraud Alerts and Credit Freeze:

Initial Fraud Alert
Extended Alert
Service Member Alert
Security Freeze
who can avail
anyone wanting to protect their credit from potential fraud
victims of identity theft who file an identity theft report with law enforcement OR he FTC
active duty military
anyone wanting to protect their credit from potential fraud
what creditors must do
Requires creditors to take steps to assure that it is you who asking requesting a new credit account on your behalf.  
Lenders must call you’re the number they have on file for you to confirm new credit requests;
same as Initial Fraud report
same as Initial Fraud report
Creditors will not usually extend credit to someone without running a credit check. A security freeze blocks creditor access to your report.  Employers, insurers and landlords may still have access to your file.
free credit reports
one per year in addition to the free annual report
two per year addition to the free annual report
See note #­1
Just the regular free yearly report.
one year
seven years
one year
until you lift it

1 Active Duty Service-members can get free credit monitoring

The Initial Fraud Alert used to be only 90 days, but a new law passed in 2018 bumps that up to one year. If you Place a Fraud Alert with one of the credit bureaus they will in turn contact the other bureaus on your behalf. A Credit/Security Freeze is different. You must contact each credit bureau individually in order to place a Security Freeze.

Contacting the Credit Bureaus: 

Depending upon your circumstance, you may have issues with any one or all of the credit bureaus in relation to accessing your report online. You will be asked to input personal data and details for existing credit/bank accounts in order to confirm your identity.

If you have been living overseas the credit bureaus may need for you to contact them by post mail and or telephone to further confirm your identity. They still may not be able to allow you online access. It has been my experience that Transunion is the most accommodating of the three. There are ways around this hurdle (if you find it to be a hurdle in your circumstance).

Contact info for the credit bureaus:

(800) 685-1111
Equifax Consumer Fraud Division
PO Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374
(888) 397-3742
P.O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013
(888) 909-8872
TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016

TransUnion's True Identity Service

True Identity allows you to view and lock your credit report for free. True Identity will also send you instant SMS updates when there are new requests for credit in your name. Transunion also provides $25,000 in ID theft insurance at the free level.

I can confirm that the Transunion credit report that you get from True Identity does have all of the right data and it is up to date, at least in my case.

You must upgrade to a paid membership if you for True Identity to provide your other two credit reports and to see  to your credit score. A paid subscription will also give you the ability to monitor your ID on the black market. Paid subscription expands ID theft insurance to $1,000,000.

Experian's Online Credit Monitoring Service 

Experian's credit monitoring service will give you your FICO 8 score for free. The FICO 8 score is the same score that True Identity uses.

Upgrading to a paid membership with Experian gives you access to credit scores and reports from all three credit bureaus. Paid membership also allows you to lock your Experian credit report and receive alerts (Transunion provides this service for free). You also receive $1,000,000 ID theft insurance at the paid level.

The credit locking service offered by Experian is only available if you upgrade, unlike True Identity's Credit Lock. However, you can take advantage of the Experian Security Freeze that they are required to provide for free.

The most important differences between Experian's CreditLock and a Security Freeze are:
  • A security freeze requires that you enter a PIN code and verify your identity every time you want to change the status.
  • A security freeze does not include monitoring or alerts of attempted credit inquiries the way Experian CreditLock does.
  • Experian CreditLock allows you to block access to your Credit File. But unlike a freeze, you can lock and unlock your file easily, in real time.
  • Experian CreditLock includes daily monitoring and attempted inquiry alerts if someone applies for credit while your File is locked.
Keep in mind that the lock only applies to that particular company's respective report.

Equifax Online Credit Monitoring Service

I have never been able to get the Equifax credit monitoring service free accounts to work for me. 

Lock & Alert and Freeze & Fraud Alerts are free options. Additional services require a paid subscription.

The Bottom Line On Credit Bureau Credit Monitoring Services

There is no reason for you to pay a cent in order to keep your credit in check. Between the three bureaus you have free services available to you that enable you to:
  • monitor your credit report and attempts to gain a credit account in your name and
  • monitor your credit score (Experian is the only one that offers it for free*) and
  • place fraud alerts on your report for a year at a time or
  • place a freeze on your report shutting down all attempts to get credit in your name
*Experian is the only bureau to give you free access to your credit score, but there are other ways to get it for free.

Free Credit Monitoring Options From Banks

Capital One provides a free service called CreditWise that allows you to monitor your Transunion credit report and VantageScore 3.0. The VantageScore 3.0 is based upon a different model from the FICO score. The VantageScore 3.0 could be, for instance, 60 points lower than the FICO 9 score. 

CreditWise recently began offering three new services:
  • Social Security number tracking: tracking instances where someone attempts to use your Social Security number to apply for credit
  • Dark web monitoring for pieces of your personal information turning up on the dark web and
  • Alerts for new account attempts from both Transunion and Experian
It is possible for anyone to sign up for True Identity CreditWise whether or not they are a Capital One account holder, but you might be better served by signing up for True Identity (above) instead.

If you do have existing accounts with Capital One, then you can use your login credentials for those accounts to sign in to CreditWise.

Wells Fargo also provides Experian FICO 9 credit score tracking to its customers free of charge.

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