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Are You A Victim of Identity Theft or Fraud?

identity theft and fraud are becoming increasingly common and frequently

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Is the fraudulent information appearing on your credit report and keeping you back? If you experienced a case of stolen identity that turned up on your credit report, read this!

Identity theft protection that is offered by the major credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – can help in only some of the cases and only to a certain extent.

What Are Identity Theft and Fraud?

Identity theft is the act of obtaining another person’s personal and financial information (such as social security number, full name and home address, date of birth, bank account number, health insurance number, etc) without authorization, and using that information to the fraudster’s financial advantage.  Identity theft can extend to many aspects of identity, and span across different areas of consumer activity, from scammers obtaining access to your bank accounts via fraud and misrepresentation, to friends or family members using information you authorized them to access but for unauthorized purposes. Many times, victims of identity fraud only find out about the ID theft when they are denied a loan, a new line or credit, an extension of existing credit, or other credit applications. And while there are several identity protection services on the market, their reach is limited. At best, they can alert you when the fraud has already happened. Identity theft protection that is offered by the major credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – can help in only some of the cases and only to a certain extent. This article will focus on how identity theft relates to credit reporting.

Identity Theft and Inaccurate Credit Reporting

Unlike identity theft involving theft of personal information, such as social security numbers used to defraud the Social Security Administration and receive benefits unlawfully, this article is concerned with identity theft related to financial accounts and charges. The latter type is the kind that is likely to appear on your credit report and prevent you from obtaining financing. In some cases, identity theft will result in fraudulent accounts appearing on your credit report. Identity fraud can also result in fraudulent charges on your existing accounts. In many cases, the victim does not even know about the account opened in their name until a collection account appears on their credit report, or they discover an account that has never been paid for on their report. Some scammers do make the first couple of payments to avoid suspicion, but then stop making payments altogether, causing the account to be charged off and sent to collection.

Common Examples of Identity Theft Cases

Identity theft can happen in a variety of ways. Here are some of the common examples of ways in which our clients have become victims of fraud:

  • A friend or family member gained authorized access to your financial information but made unauthorized use of it. For example, you allowed a friend to use your credit card for a specific purpose, and they used it for another purpose
  • Lost wallet, and fraudster opened new accounts using the information in your ID and bank cards
  • Data breach exposing information to fraudsters who then misuse it by opening credit card accounts
  • Stealing or happening upon unopened mail, and then misusing the information contained within
  • Scammers calling you or emailing you, posing as representatives of large tech companies, such as Amazon, Apple, or Microsoft

What To Do If the Identity Theft Appears on My Credit Report

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides certain protections to victims of identity theft. Before submitting any kind of FCRA dispute letter, however, you should report the fraud to authorities. You can do so by filing a police report or by filing an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which can be found at identitytheft.gov. In addition, you should also contact the creditors of the accounts on which you experienced fraud before submitting a dispute letter to the credit bureaus. Be sure to keep copies of all communications, mailings, and correspondence. You might also want to add an initial fraud alert on your reports, or freeze your credit reports altogether.

How To Dispute Credit Report Errors Stemming from Fraud

Similar to your run-of-the-mill credit dispute concerning any other type of account information disputed by a consumer, in identity theft cases you will need to notify the credit reporting bureaus of the information that is reported and is fraudulent. Unlike the timeline with other FCRA credit bureau disputes, here, the credit reporting agencies have 10 days (and not 30, as is the case with other disputed information) from the receipt of your letter to investigate the issue and block the fraudulent information from your credit report. We made a video that explains this process for each of the 3 major credit checking companies, here (it’s the same process for each, this one discusses Equifax). We know this can be daunting and confusing, and that is why we will be happy to review your specific situation with you. Contact us using the form below for a free consultation.

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