Place a Fraud Alert on your credit report.
You must act fast. The first thing you should do is put a temporary fraud alert on your credit report. This lets potential creditors know that you have been the victim of identity theft. A fraud alert is good for 90 days.
An extended fraud alert stays on your credit report for seven years.
You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an Identity Theft Report. An automated Identity Theft Report, such as the printed ID Theft Complaint available from the FTC’s web site, should be sufficient to obtain an extended fraud alert. With an extended fraud alert, potential creditors must actually contact you, or meet with you in person, before they issue you credit. When you place an extended alert on your credit report, you’re entitled to two free credit reports within twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. In addition, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then.
Either fraud alert only requires you to contact just one of the three major credit reporting agencies. The one that you contact will notify the other two credit reporting agencies. You may contact them as follows:
Close the accounts that have been used by the identity thief.
If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or has fraudulently opened accounts, ask the company for the forms to dispute those transactions:
For charges and debits on existing accounts, ask the representative to send you the company’s fraud dispute forms. If the company doesn’t have special forms, use the sample letter to dispute the fraudulent charges or debits. In either case, write to the company at the address given for “billing inquiries,” NOT the address for sending your payments.
For new unauthorized accounts, you can either file a dispute directly with the company or file a report with the police and provide a copy, called an “Identity Theft Report,” to the company.
Posit a consumer dispute to the trade lines with the credit reporting agencies reporting them. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can posit a dispute to any item that you believe is incorrectly appearing on your credit report. Beware, that you must posit that dispute to the credit reporting agency and not to the creditor that is furnishing that information. We have attached a sample consumer dispute letter for your convenience.
Fill out the FTC ID Theft Complaint Form. You can do this on line. Bring a copy of this Complaint form with you when you file your police report. File a police report with your local police. This is vitally important because often times, the credit reporting agencies will require you to produce a police report in order to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Again, bring a copy of the ID Theft Complaint Form that you prepared on line with the Federal Trade Commission. Be sure that the officer incorporates the ID Theft Complaint Form into her report.
YOUR RIGHTS AS A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT:
You have the right to copies of your credit report. An initial fraud alert entitles you to a copy of all the information in your file at each of the three credit reporting agencies. An extended fraud alert entitles you to two free credit reports in a 12-month period following the alert.
You can obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information. A creditor or other business must give you copies of applications and other business records relating to transactions and accounts that resulted from the theft of your identity.
You can also obtain information from a debt collector. Sometimes a debt collector will attempt to collect a debt that was incurred as result of identity theft. If you are the victim of the identity thief and now the debt collector, you can ask the debt collector for information about the debt and he must provide it.
You can have certain information or “trade lines” blocked on your credit report. An identity thief may obtain credit in your name and not pay the bill. When this information appears on your credit report, it’s called a “trade line.” A bogus trade line can be blocked so that other prospective creditors do not see these bogus trade lines. It’s up to you to notify the credit reporting agencies of what trade lines are bogus and should be blocked. Be careful as they may require you to provide certain information as a condition to blocking these trade lines. You must also comply with their reasonable requests for information.
You may prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft. To do so, you must send your request to block information to the address specified by the business that reports the information to the consumer reporting agency. The business will expect you to identify what information you do not want reported and to provide a police report.
If you think your rights have been violated, call Attorney Gary Nitzkin, toll free at (888) 293-2882. The call is free and the advice is priceless. You can also email him at [email protected].