Most Americans have encountered problems with identity theft. Even if you are too careful about your privacy, there are still chances your information can get compromised.
Dealing with this matter can cause feelings of anxiousness, hopelessness, and vulnerability. But you have to take action right away to avoid more problems with your credit.
Read on to find out how you can remove any fraudulent items from your credit report and have it protected against identity theft.
Table of Contents
What is identity theft and how does it happen?
Identity theft is an act of using another person’s identity without their consent. This is done by forging a SSN card or any personal ID to apply for credit. Aside from forging your documents, there are also instances where other people can acquire your information in ways you wouldn’t expect or even know.
In worse cases, the person who might steal your personal information can be someone close to you. It usually is someone you live with at home and has easier access to your data.
The most common way for your personal information to get compromised is by a data breach. Most recently, it occurs with breaches in the online security of big institutions like banks and government agencies. Once a hacker gets a lot of personal data, they will sell it to identity thieves committing identity theft. After acquiring other people’s information, they will start using it to apply for credit and make other fraudulent transactions using the stolen identity.
How can you fix records of identity theft from your credit report?
After dealing with a lot of identity theft issues, I have come up with several steps to fix any fraudulent activity. This includes fraudulent items on credit reports which are a result of identity theft.
Please note the methods used in removing questionable items on your credit reports such as late payments, collections, charge-off accounts, and inquiries are different if identity theft is not the cause.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has all the necessary provisions for cases of identity theft. The following steps can help effectively solve this matter. However, there might be incidents when the creditors or credit bureaus may deny your claim. Especially if you fail to do any of the following steps properly.
Step One: File an identity theft affidavit to the Federal Trade Commission
You can file for an identity theft affidavit and send it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online. This is imperative if you believe someone stole your personal information and used it for any credit-related activities.
Make sure you include all the necessary information such as the account number on your credit report, opening dates, and the amount involved. If you miss filling in the details properly, it can result in rejection by the creditors and the credit bureaus.
Step Two: File a police report
The next thing to do is to file for a police report. You can do this online on your police department’s website or visit the station personally. If you choose to walk in, don’t forget to bring with you a copy of your credit report and ID.
Also, make sure you include on your police report the account number on your credit report. The date when the fraudulent activity happened and the outstanding amount should also be listed.
Make sure to file this properly. There are incidents when credit bureaus and creditors reject an identity theft claim if there is no police report included.
Step Three: Prepare an identity theft dispute letter
After having all the requirements you need, it’s time to prepare an identity theft dispute letter. Here are some important reminders.
A) How to dispute identity theft, fraudulent acts, and other related items on your credit report?
You can dispute an account for identity theft and other related items by simply stating that the account was fraudulently opened by an identity thief. If the account incurred any fraudulent charges, you can also dispute it.
B) Why is it important to have a fraud alert on your credit report and how can you do it?
Setting up a Fraud Alert will help you get notified if something suspicious accesses your account. You also get alerted when someone else uses your information to apply for credit. To do this, you can simply list your mobile number on your letter and request the credit bureau add one. It is fairly easy to request your credit report have a fraud alert.
C) Where can you send your identity theft dispute letters to?
You need to email the letter together with other important documents of your claim to the credit bureaus. Here are their corresponding mailing address:
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
National Fraud Victims Assistance
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Fraud Victims Assistance
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
D) What are the things you need to include in your identity theft dispute letter?
Don’t forget to include these documents so the credit bureau can process your claim properly and won’t reject it.
- Identification card
- Social Security card
- Copy of utility bill
- Copy of identity theft report sent to FTC
- Copy of identity theft police report
Step Four: Directly dispute the identity theft accounts
Here are the things you should do to dispute fraudulent accounts:
Contact your creditor
Once you notice fraudulent activity on your account, you may call your creditor’s fraud department right away. Ask them where to send your documents about your claim. Don’t forget to leave your contact number, email address, and mailing address so they can notify you.
Send the following documents to your creditor
Please also supply your letter with all the following documents to further prove your claim:
- Cover letter stating the fraudulent incident you experienced on your account
- ID card
- Social security card
- Utility bill
- Copy of identity theft report to the FTC
- Copy of filed identity theft police report
Wait for the update
After submitting all the requirements, you need to wait for around 30 days to give time for the investigation and decision regarding your claim.
Step Five: File a regulatory complaint
After a month of waiting for the result, you can file a regulatory complaint against the party or parties involved. But you can only do it if you have processed the identity theft reports and included all the necessary documents on your complaint.
You may inquire to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file a complaint against the creditor and/or the three credit bureaus. After filing the complaint, it will be forwarded to you and you need to provide a response addressing the problem.
Step Six: Prevent and protect yourself from identity theft
As you can see, reporting an incident of identity theft on your account involves a lot of work. To prevent this from happening again, you need to take precautionary measures to protect yourself from fraudulent attacks. If you are planning to apply for new credit, always take protective measures. You can apply for a credit lock or credit freeze to the credit bureaus to protect your credit report from any future attacks. In this way, no one can access your account, even the creditor.
Credit bureaus’ credit lock procedure:
Experian: They have a free credit monitoring service where you can lock and unlock instantly your Experian credit report.
TransUnion: They offer a paid monthly monitoring service for your credit report. It allows you to lock and unlock instantly your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports.
Step Seven: Review other identity theft resource centers
You can review other identity theft resource centers whenever you encounter any of the related problems, such as:
Organizing your recovery process: Request for FTC Identity Theft Recovery Plan Booklet
Driver’s License Fraud: Inform your state’s DMV asap to prevent any bigger problems.
IRS and Tax Fraud: Please contact the Internal Revenue Service Fraud Department on their hotline 800-829-0433. You may also go to your state’s income tax board.
Passport fraud and identity theft: If your passport’s personal information was used in identity theft, contact the Passport Services Department asap.
Stolen mail: If someone else stole your mail, call the USPS Inspector General to track the mail for you.
SSN Fraudulent Activity for Employment Use: If you see someone else employed on your SSN, file a complaint with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General to assist you in investigating the matter.
Step Eight: Consider applying for a new social security number
When all the above steps don’t help you correct your issues with identity theft. The Social Security Administration may issue a new social security number to you. Thus, you need to inform the three credit bureaus that you created a new credit file. They will transfer all your previous information to it.
To do this, you may contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
Start to repair your credit report affected by identity theft.
In case you need more help in fixing your credit because of identity theft, let 007 Credit Agent know. We will assist you in investigating this matter, so you can avoid this problem in the future.