Protecting Your Credit & Identity in the New Year

With the holidays over and the New Year upon us, now is as good
a time as any to make a commitment to improve your credit. 
Post holiday shopping, most consumers credit cards bills see the
effects of this giving season and you need to ensure your card(s)
were not compromised during these last few months.  When the
bills start showing up in your mailbox, hopefully you saved your
receipts and can begin the process of comparing your charges to any
charges that may not be yours.

If after your review, you feel you have been a victim of
identity theft, the following is a step by step description of what
you need to do and how to begin the process of repairing
and protecting your credit
.

Step 1:  If the bank has not already
called to alert you of fraudulent activity on your card, contact
the bank and close the account that has been compromised.  The
bank will send you a new card with a new number. 

Step 2:  Report the fraudulent activity by
filing a police report.  Some creditors may request a copy of
the report prior to closing the account and issuing a new
card. 

Step 3:  Place a fraud alert on your
credit file with all three credit reporting agencies.  You may
place an alert with
all three bureaus
for a minimum of 90 days which will require
any creditor to contact you prior to extending credit.  While
the alert cannot guarantee further fraudulent activity in your
name, it is a safeguard and goes a long way to protect your
identity.   

Step 4:  Order a copy of your credit
report.  You are entitled to one free copy of your report
annually and if you have not already received a copy (chances are
you have not considering we are in the first few weeks of the
year), you can order yours online at annualcreditreport.com or by calling or mailing
a request to the credit reporting agencies.  Review your
report and make sure no fraudulent accounts appear. 

Step 5:   Should fraudulent accounts
appear on your report, dispute the
inaccurate information
with the credit reporting
agencies.  Make sure to dispute in writing and to include a
copy of your police report showing you have been a victim of
identity theft. 

Step 6:  File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

If you have been a victim of identity
theft
and need additional information or would like the
assistance and advice of counsel, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free case review.