Three Steps to Handling Identity Theft

Identity
theft
is a very real and serious crime that is rapidly
growing. Piggy _bank It happens when a
person, whether known or unknown, steals your identity and uses
your personal information without your knowledge and/or permission
to open accounts and borrow money in your name.  Identity
theft can destroy your financial reputation and can cost both time
and money to repair your good name.  While the federal
government has enacted several laws to protect you from the
devastating effects of identity theft, you must take action on your
own behalf to protect your credit worthiness after the damage has
already been done.  Below are three simple steps to put you
back on track to repairing your credit worthiness.
 
Step One: 
Place an initial fraud alert on your credit
report

As explained in a post earlier this week, in 2003, the federal
government amended the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (“FCRA”)
to include the Fair and Accurate Credit
Transactions Act (“FACTA”) which set more stringent guidelines in
protecting consumers from identity theft both before and after it
happens.  Under this new amendment, you are entitled to place
an initial fraud alert on your credit report.  The three major

credit reporting agencies
, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union,
keep detailed records of your credit history and must be put on
notice if your identity has been compromised.  Under FACTA,
you have a right to notify the credit reporting agencies that your
information has been misused and in response, they must reflect
this on your report which will notify any credit grantor and/or
existing creditor of your situation. 

The purpose of a fraud alert is to stop the facilitation of the
crime.  If a fraud alert appears on your report, a creditor
may not extend credit without first contacting you at the telephone
number provided.  An initial fraud alert lasts up to 90 days
and may be renewed after the time has passed.  Furthermore, a
fraud alert entitles you to one free copy of your report from each
of the three major credit reporting agencies.   

Step Two: 
Order Copies of Your Credit
Reports

After placing an initial fraud alert on your report, you are now
entitled to one free copy of your
credit report
from each of the three major credit reporting
agencies.  When ordering your report, it is highly recommended
that you ask the agencies to report only the last four digits of
your social security number to take extra precaution.  If you
know what accounts were fraudulently opened or used contact those
companies directly without waiting for copies of your reports so
that no time is wasted.   

Upon receiving your report, mark all accounts and information
which is related to the identity theft so that you may begin the
dispute process.  For a more detailed explanation of the dispute
process
see our website.

Step Three: 
Create Report of the Identity Theft
An Identity Theft Report will aid in keeping you
organized when dealing with repairing your credit.  To create
a report you must file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the Federal
Trade Commission (“FTC”) stating you have been a victim of identity
theft.  Upon completion, you should file a police report using
the Affidavit and together, the Affidavit and your police report
make up the Identity Theft Report.   With this report you
can have fraudulent accounts and information more easily removed
from your credit file, stop debt collectors from attempting to
collect these fraudulent debts and place an extended fraud alert on
your credit file.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, SmithMarco, P.C. can help you restore your
good name.  SmithMarco, P.C. has been protecting consumers
since 2005.  Contact us for a free consultation.