In 2005, I joined the growing ranks of identity theft victims. Fortunately, the damage I suffered totaled only a few thousand dollars. After filing a police report, conducting a three month letter writing campaign and calling creditor after creditor, I was able to restore my credit. I was lucky; Recovery is a much, longer, more costly and grueling process for many victims.
My credit report was something that I did actually check from time to time. Not often, but I did pull it up about once a year. It just so happens that between my check ups, someone managed to modify my name address information. I was completely unaware of the change until some damage had already been done.
After recovery, I signed up for a credit monitoring service that emails me any time my credit file is accessed. I regretted not having signed up for this service sooner. If I had known about the fraudulent activity on my credit file sooner, I could have spent a proportionately smaller amount of time fixing my mess. Now I'm thankful for each day that I receive no alerts. If something were to happen now, I'm on the case within a day rather than potentially weeks or months.
I also signed up for an online access to my checking account. The bank's web site has an area for me to configure email alerts for any type of activity in my account for which I would like to be notified. I selected all types. My bank balance is important to me, but I don't want to have to look it up every day. The alerts from my bank eliminate that chore. If I get an email that shows an unfamiliar transaction, I'm on it within minutes rather than days or weeks.
Obviously I've become a big fan of email alerts as a tool to protect my financial health, but alerts can also be used simply for your cyber-enjoyment. I've got a number of favorite web sites and not enough time to check them each day for updates and changes. Changedetect.com is a free service that you can use to monitor for changes to your favorite web sites. After creating a free account, you can designate which web sites you want to monitor. If it detects a change in the web site, you'll receive an email and changedetect.com will highlight, with color coding, the changes in the web site.
I'm on an email alert spree. I want one for Super Lotto so I don't have to go through the trouble and disappointment of checking my numbers. I want to just buy a batch of tickets and then receive that joyous email alert when I've won. I've searched, but I can't find that service -yet.