Identity Theft - When It Happens To You
So, you've just realized that someone has stolen your identity and is
racking up debt left and right, and you want to put a stop to it, but
you don't know what to do. Well, keep reading, because in this article
you will learn exactly what to do when you are a victim of identity
theft. Once you have absorbed this information, act quickly, because the
sooner you start fighting for your identity, the sooner you will win.
You will probably receive a phone call from a creditor stating "you"
just either made a large purchase and they suspect fraud or you open your
credit card bill as you do every month and be amazed at some extra
charges that are on there. Call your credit card company immediately.
Rarely, will you be liable for charges over , and many credit card
companies wave the first in the case of fraud. Check with your bank, you
will usually be given a choice to close your account and reopen a new
one or some banks will put a "watch" on your account and you will have
to log into your account and manually approve every charge and check
before it is cleared. This usually goes on for a period of 30-60 days. The
latter isn't the best choice as it is labor intensive to do and your
account isn't protected from fraud as it would be if you simply closed it
out and reopened a new account.
After you have done all the initial damage control. the next thing to
do when you realize that you are a victim of identity theft is to notify
the credit bureaus.
Report the situation to the three major credit reporting companies-
Equifax, Experien, and TransUnion. You can do it online or in writing, and
you must tell these companies that your identifying information has been
stolen and is being used by another person fraudulently in your name.
Ask them to flag your file with a fraud alert, and ask that all
creditors call you before extending credit in your name. A consumer statement
will be put on your file and it will alleviate your fears of bogus
accounts being opened for about 3 months.
Due to provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can only place
an initial fraud alert for 90 days. The credit bureaus will then send
you a notice displaying your rights as an identity theft victim. As soon
you receive this, write to each of the three credit bureaus to request
two things; An extension of the fraud alert to seven years, and a
free copy of your credit
report. Remember to include an identity theft report when you send your
letter in order to authorize the seven year alert. Whenever you
communicate with the credit companies, you should refer to the number given to
your credit report and always use verified return receipt mail. Also,
make sure you save all credit reports and related information for your
As soon as you get your three credit reports, carefully examine each
one. Report all fraudulent and inaccurate information in writing to the
credit bureaus, as well as to the credit issuers, following the
instructions that are provided with the credit reports. As soon as you notify
the credit bureaus about the fraudulent information, the bureau is
required to strike that information from future reports. The bureau will
also notify the credit grantor of the fraudulent account(s). If it isn't
included in the report, ask the credit bureaus for the contact
information of the credit grantors.
Also, tell the credit bureaus in writing that you want them to remove
all inquiries that have been created due to fraudulent access. You
should also ask the bureaus to contact anyone who has received your credit
report in the last six months so they can be informed about the
fraudulent and inaccurate information. Numerous inquiries can lower your
credit score, so work diligently on getting those inquiries removed from
your personal credit report.
Though these measures should set you back on track and protect your
credit from the fraudulent information, they may not completely stop it
from happening again. Because of this, be sure to
monitor your credit
reports, there are many online services that will help you moniter your
credit report. We recommend Experian Triple Advantage. Along with getting
your credit report online with credit score, you also get 30 days free
credit monitering service. With this service you can start the dispute
process online! Often times, once you have started the process you will
be able to obtain a second free report from the credit bureaus, and in
many states you will be able to access your credit report more
frequently. If you notice that the fraudulent information is still happening,
notify the proper bureaus instantly. If the problem persists for very
long, you may want to consider freezing your accounts for awhile if
possible to prevent any more damage.
Identity theft is an unfortunate event when it occurs, but you can
fight back and get your life back quickly!
About the Author: Liz Roberts is a loan consultant with
NewHorizon Finance and has been providing consumers and business owners
with financing since 1989. Bad Credit? Join our mailing list for tips on
building and repairing
your credit yourself, without hiring a credit repair service. Click here
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