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What to Do When Your Credit is Compromised

Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), when you are a victim of identity theft you have specific rights.  While recovering from a massive attack on your credit is a lengthy process, it is not an impossible feat if you follow the letter of the law and these five simple steps.

Step 1: Order Your Credit Report & Enable a Fraud Alert

If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, first, order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies to find out what is reporting.  The three major credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.  After ordering a copy of your report, put a fraud alert on your report.  Under the FCRA, you are entitled to put an alert on your report which requires lenders to reach out to you prior to extending you credit.  Initially, a fraud alert remains on your credit report for 90 days and then if you renew the alert it can remain on your file for a period of seven years.

Step 2: Gather Supporting Information

If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft you need to gather information to support your claim.  Make a list of all accounts fraudulently opened in your name.  Reach out to creditors who opened the accounts and ask for copies of the applications submitted in your name.  You may not get those applications from them, but at least take the opportunity to notify them that you did not open the account, and you would be willing to assist in the investigation process. 

Step 3: Stop Debt Collecters From Contacting You

Step 3.  Demand debt collectors stop contacting you and tell them that the account was opened by an impostor.  Let them know very clearly that you did not open the account and you will not be paying for it.   Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (“FDCPA”), a debt collector must not report information to a credit bureau that it knows or should know is incorrect.  They cannot ignore you when you advise them of fraud.

Step 4: Dispute the Inaccurate Information

Dispute the information that is inaccurate with the credit reporting agency and demand that it be deleted from your credit file.  You must notify to the credit reporting agencies that you have been the victim of identity theft.  The most effective identity theft dispute to the credit bureaus includes a police report and proof of your identity and your current address.

Step 5: Obtain Your Dispute Results

The credit bureaus have just 30 days to investigate your claims and report back to you with the results. 

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If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft and cannot get the credit bureaus to delete the fraudulent information, contact SmithMarco, P.C. for a completely free case review.  You can also purchase our identity theft recovery kit.  For less than $10, have a step by step process along with templates of the letters you will need.  

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