Identity theft is a scary thing and can cause a lot of financial issues down the road. It’s good to be prepared and knowledgeable should a situation like this ever arise. We sincerely hope you never have to look to some of these tips!
A lot of the stories we have heard have been along the lines of “I was trying to get a line of credit but little did I know I had debts from my identity being stolen!” It is best for everyone to have credit monitoring. This will help keep an eye on things. Credit monitoring services will notify you of any inquiries being initiated, new accounts being added, and some even provide you monthly reports with a credit score. This will allow you to stop any suspicious activity in its tracks. We recommend Score Safety for credit monitoring services if you are currently not enrolled in one.
If you do catch any suspicious activity, this is something we certainly do not suggest you put on the back burner. The faster you work to correct the situation the better. What should you be on the look out for though?
The following are signs that you should look further into:
- Unexplained withdrawals or charges on statements. If you see money mysteriously missing or you are being charged for fees or items you were not aware of it is likely that thieves are taking money from your account or making purchases with your cards. Sometimes these charges could be small and overlooked and in other instances they can be big enough to make you take a second look.
- New accounts you do not recognize. If an identity thief has your information they will often try applying for credit in YOUR name and when they do this will show up on your credit report. Be sure to look at not only accounts reporting on your credit, but also inquiries made as it could be a sign of someone attempting to apply for lines of credit in your name.
- Receiving calls from collection agencies you don’t know about. If these thieves do open accounts, remember it will be in YOUR name. After they open these new accounts and “you” fail to pay, they are often sold to collection agencies that will then try to collect the unpaid debts. Be sure to ask for validation to confirm it is your account and if it truly is something you opened or something resulting from identity theft.
What steps should I take?
- File a police report. This will help the authorities track down the culprit. Additionally, the police report will be important when working with the credit bureaus and creditors when it comes to fixing the credit issues. It will be the proof that shows a crime was committed against you.
- Place a fraud alert. These fraud alerts will be red flags to creditors to contact you before any new accounts are opened in your name. You can contact one of the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax andTransUnion) and inform them that you would like to place a fraud alert on your report. You only need to contact one of the bureaus as they are obligated to inform the other two bureaus to also place an alert on your file. You can contact them online or call them at Experian 1-888-397-3742, Equifax 1-800-525-6285, and TransUnion 1-800-680-7289.
- Close the fraudulent accounts. As mentioned above review your credit reports! Cancel all fraudulent account by speaking to the fraud department of each company. Keep track of the information which was communicated such as who did you speak to and when. It’s important to follow-up with them (writing and certified mail is best) on the status of the account. It is best to ask for written confirmation that the account(s) have been closed.
MSI Credit Solutions provides superior credit restoration and comprehensive consulting services that are reliable and affordable. For any questions or to schedule a free credit consultation, contact us at (866) 217-9841.
*The information in this article has been provided strictly for educational purposes.