Once an individual has discovered that his identity has been stolen, the individual may be confronted with a great deal of anger and disappointment. What’s even worse is all the frustration he may encounter as he attempts to clean up his credit. Since identity theft usually begins as a financial crime, the most significant part of clearing up the damage is repairing the mistakes due to unauthorized charges and accounts that were opened in the victim’s name.
The best technique for correcting fraudulent activity on a credit report is to start fixing the problem immediately and be patient. The quicker mistakes are discovered, the simpler it is to clean them up. It is important to remember that even when mistakes are found early, disputing charges on a credit report and the entire removal process will take some time. Here are some immediate steps that one can take to minimize the damages:
Request A Fraud Alert
The three credit bureaus maintain records of every individual’s credit history. In the event that someone has fraudulently use another individual’s financial or personal information, one of the credit reporting agencies can be contacted and a request for a fraud alert can be initiated. A fraud alert does not cost the victim anything. The victim will only have to provide proof of his identity. The credit reporting agency that was contacted is required to notify the other two agencies.
By placing a fraud alert on the credit report, it makes it difficult for an identity thief to open any new accounts in the victim’s name. Once the fraud alert has been placed on the credit report, any new accounts or transactions would require a telephone call to the victim for verification purposes. The initial alert will remain on your credit for 90 days. It can also be renewed for an additional 90 days. Victims of identity theft can order a free copy of their credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. It is important for victims to make sure that their contact information is always up to date in the event they have to be contacted.
Review The Credit Report
Once a fraud alert has been placed on a credit report, all victims of identity theft are entitled to a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies. The credit reporting agency that is contacted will brief the victim on his rights and how he would go about obtaining a free copy of his credit report. When ordering a credit report, it is beneficial to ask that full Social Security numbers not be visible.
Once it has been determined which accounts were tampered with or fraudulently opened, it is suggested that the individual speak with someone in the fraud department and follow-up with a letter. When following up with a letter, send it certified mail and request a return receipt. This will allow the individual to have a record of the communication.
Once the credit report has been received, it needs to be reviewed in detail, and the necessary steps must be taken to remove all fraudulent activity off the credit report. Errors must not only be disputed with the credit reporting agencies but also with the fraud department of every business. If there are errors listed on the credit report that are due to identity theft, ask each credit reporting agency to block the information that is being disputed. This prevents the fraudulent information from appearing on the credit report. The credit reporting agencies are required to block transactions due to identity theft.
Request an Identity Theft Report
To create an identity theft report, one must file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. An identity theft report is there to assist with debt collectors, credit reporting agencies, and businesses in which fraudulent accounts were opened in the victim’s name. The benefits of having an identity theft report are the victim can have fraudulent information deleted from his credit report, stop companies from contacting him about fraudulent accounts, and it allows him to add an extended fraud alert to his credit report.
Monitor Your Credit Reports
Unfortunately, resolving identity theft issues take time. It is important to document and keep track of all the telephone calls, mail, and documents that are associated with the incident. When speaking to the credit reporting agencies, it is wise to write down the date, time, and the name of the company representative that provided assistance. When mailing documents, it is best to send copies and keep all originals. Keep track of important dates and follow up with each credit reporting agency to ensure that all the negative information has been deleted.
Most state laws protect individuals who are victims of identity theft. Any fraudulent accounts that were opened without the victim’s permission, the victim is not responsible for the debt. The liability for unauthorized use of a credit card is usually limited to $50. However, if the matter was reported prior to any fraudulent financial activity taking place, then the victim is not responsible for any unauthorized accounts or purchases.
Reporting unauthorized transactions as quickly as possible can have a great impact on the victim’s financial losses. In some states, if a victim reports the loss after two days of being aware of the identity theft, then the victim may be responsible for paying fees up to $500. If fraudulent activity is not reported within 60 days, the victim could be responsible for all fraudulent activity.
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