Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Contact Credit Reporting Agencies:
It is very important for you to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your credit reports and to get a copy of your credit reports. Reviewing your credit reports will help you to determine if there has been any unusual activity with any of your credit cards or other credit accounts. The names and phone numbers of each of these reporting agencies are as follows:
* Equifax 1-800-525-6285
* Experian 1-888-397-3742
* Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
We understand that this process may be confusing, so set forth below is additional information about how to put a fraud alert on your credit reports and what to do once you get a copy of your credit reports.
A "fraud alert" is a statement that can be placed on your credit reports that can state "please do not issue credit without calling me first at this number” (you will provide your home number and/or your business number). Companies seeing this fraud alert should not issue credit to an imposter without calling you at your home first.
Please know that if you place a "fraud alert” on your credit file, you will not be able to get instant credit because you will not be at your home or office to receive the phone call for the credit to be issued. If you place a fraud alert but then want to be able to get instant credit, you will need to remove it from your credit file.
The credit bureaus will not keep the fraud alert on your credit reports indefinitely. It's likely that they will give you the option of leaving it on three months, six months, or if you ask for it in writing, seven years. You should consider leaving the fraud alert on ~--your credit reports as long as possible in order to protect yourself. It's our
understanding that having a fraud alert on your credit file will not reduce your credit score.
Copy of Credit Reports:
The credit reporting agencies may charge a fee in order to obtain a copy of your credit report. However, it's our understanding that if you advise them that you are a potential victim of fraud, that they may provide them to you free of charge.
When you receive your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies, you will note that they each use different formats. The most important things to look for to help protect yourself from fraud are the following:
1. Is there a different name on your credit report, or is your name misspelled in anyway?
2. Is your social security number correct? Are there any other social security numbers or slightly different numbers on your credit report?
3. Are all of the accounts yours?
4. Are all of the accounts that you closed listed as closed? If there appears to be open accounts or if there are credit balances for accounts that you believe were closed, you should check with the creditor to confirm whether there has been an error.
5. Look at the inquiry section of the report. This is the section that says "these companies received your credit report for the purposes of issuing you credit." The section lists companies and creditors who received a full copy of your credit report. Under federal law, they are only allowed to get your report with your permission. If there are companies in that section that you do not recognize, you should find out why and how that company was able to access your credit report.
If you find that there are any errors, mistakes, or inquiries that you do not recognize, you should immediately write a letter to each of the three credit reporting agencies. Inform them of the errors and ask for clarification of the addresses and telephone numbers of the companies that received your credit report. You should also notify the companies that accessed your credit report without your permission, and find out whatever information you can, including getting a copy of any application that may have been completed. This could be an indication of an imposter attempting to establish credit in your name.
Change Your Passwords:
It's in your best interest to use passwords that no one would know. For example, for any accounts that you've used your "mother's maiden name" as a password, it's advisable to change it to something else that no one knows.
Contact Police If You Suspect Fraud:
If you detect or suspect any fraudulent use of your identity, you should file a report with your local police or the police where the identity theft took place. Request a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company, or others need proof of the crime later on.
The Federal Trade Commission also publishes tips on how you can prevent and deal with identity fraud. You can access the FTC's Internet site at www.consumer.gov or call them at 1-877-10- THEFT (1-877-438-4338).