Any time you have something new show up on your credit report, you will get a notification by whatever credit reporting service you use (Credit Karma, Credit Check Total, etc) that you have something reporting new data on your reports, so asking what is an updated tradeline has a simple answer. All that means is that you have a new revolving or installment account reporting the lender, date of opening (which tracks the account age), limit, current payment date, and payment history. If you keep these things in the green, as in don’t miss payments (and don’t overutilize if it is revolving).
If you’re getting alerts, let’s say from Credit Karma, that, for example, says “updated equifax tradeline” this means that you have a new account showing on your equifax report. You may get alerts for the other reports as well when this happens. If you haven’t applied for anything and been approved, then you will want to log in and see what the account is. You may even get a general “updated tradeline” alert without specifics. Most people know what they’ve applied for, and they definitely know if they’ve been approved recently, so if you are confused, always double check what’s what and see your updated tradeline credit report by logging into whatever site you subscribe to. You might think it’s unlikely that someone would apply for something in your name, but it happens all the time.
Simple, someone who has your information can apply for something, then use a different address on the application to get the card sent to them. No one is going to be getting a car or a mortgage in your name, but a credit card? Sure, that’s the kind of thing that happens all the time. Then they max it out, buying whatever they’d like, and leave you stuck with it. How can you protect yourself against these demonic forces? There isn’t much you can do but keep an eye on your reports. This is why it is so important to have a service that alerts you to new accounts being opened, new data being reported. There are companies that LifeLock that claim to protect you against people stealing your data, but all they do is monitor your data. And make no mistake, your data is out there. Remember the fiasco where Equifax lost half the country’s data in a breach? There’s a 50/50 (or better) chance that your information is out there to be had by the highest bidder. We don’t say any of this to scare you, only to make you aware of the situation. And why pay someone to monitor your data when you can do it for free with a site like Credit Karma, who will let you know within seconds of a new inquiry, or new data, so when you get an alert saying credit report updated tradeline you’ll know by logging in if that is something you’ve done yourself, or if it’s time to call the reports and log an ID Theft. If you’ve done the work to get yourself great credit, then you are particularly attractive to these thieves, as they can apply for high balance cards with the biggest institutions and put 100k for income and get approved for personal high limit tradelines in your name. Then they commit bust out fraud and leave you with the bill. The good news is that if you catch it quick you won’t have to deal with it. This is where the tight diligence of monitoring your credit becomes invaluable.
Have you ever seen the experiment where a person takes a swab of their tongue and puts it on a petri dish? After a short period of time all sorts of things start appearing. Your credit report can be just like this. Someone can get your data, wreak havoc, and do it without you even knowing–the best time to stop monsters is when they are little. If you are afraid to look at your report and have no idea what is going on, this can become a dangerous situation, and quickly. The general consensus is that there’s no such thing as a free tradeline, but when someone uses your identity to get one, that’s pretty free.
But let’s say you haven’t looked at your report in a while, then you get all three full reports from annualcreditreport.com (you can do this for free 1x/year) and you see a whole bunch of stuff on there that you didn’t apply for, and there are things opened. What can you do? Call each report separately and ask what they recommend, which will usually involve filing a police report. Wait, for stealing your credit identity? Absolutely, if someone stole your car you would do exactly that. And in the case of stealing your data, it can be even worse, as they may get credit cards, do the max cash advance, and pay for a car outright. But none of this happens if you are signed up and getting alerts in real time, so when “equifax updated tradeline” appears in your email, and you didn’t apply for it, then you know it’s time to stop that little monster before it turns into a massive issue that can have devastating impacts on your future lending needs. Because let’s face it, the system we live in is designed to run on debt. If you want a car, or a house especially, and your credit is not in good shape, then you’re looking at getting no approvals, or the approvals you do get have rates at levels that could mean you pay tens of thousands of dollars more than you would if you had your credit in proper order.
And at that point you will come to us and we’ll give you this advice, open a monitoring service, keep an eye on it, and think about adding trade lines to help boost your score so you can get approved for your own.