Identity Theft - When It Happens To You
">By: Liz Roberts
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 $50, and many credit card companies wave the
first $50 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, Experian, 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 records.
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
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
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 monitor 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
monitoring 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
Identity theft is an unfortunate event when it occurs, but you can fight
back and get your life back quickly!
© 2006 Liz Roberts. All rights reserved.
About the Author:
Liz Roberts is a loan consultant with New Horizon Finance, specializing in bad credit, & has been providing consumers & business owners with financing since 1989. Join Experian Triple Advantage
http://www.newhorizon.org/Info/experian.htm & get a free credit report & credit score. Apply for bad credit credit cards here http://www.newhorizon.org/Info/unsecured.htm. Free Credit Repair Guide on this site http://www.newhorizon.org/Info/creditbk.htm.