Recovering from identity theft
identity theft can be a time consuming and frustrating process.
Once you become aware that your personal information is being used
fraudulently, your best defense is taking fast action to minimize
future damage. You should first contact your
creditors to close any fraudulent accounts. Next, notify the
three national crediting reporting agencies by calling
Experian at 1-888-397-3742 (this number has an electronic menu.
You cannot talk to anyone at Experian until you have a copy of your
credit report, which includes a toll free number to reach a live
Equifax at 1-800-270-3435 and
Trans Union at 1-800-680-7289.
Each CRA (credit reporting agency) will add a fraud security
alert message that says, "Fraudulent applications may be submitted
in my name using correct personal information. Do not extend credit
without first contacting me personally and verifying all applicant
information. Date reported-(mm/yy)."
Experian's fraud alert will remain for 90 days. All three CRAs
will send you a complimentary copy of your personal credit report
and, as a further precaution, remove your name from
prescreened offer mailing lists. They will provide you with
tips for recovering from fraud. They will also offer you the opportunity
to request that a fraud alert message be added to your personal
credit report for an extended period of time. This message says,
"Fraudulent applications may be submitted in my name using correct
personal information. Do not extend credit without first contacting
me personally and verifying all applicant information at (your day
phone number) or (your evening phone number). Date reported-(mm/yy)."
This message will remain on your Experian report for seven years.
If you select this extended-time message, all three CRAs will provide
you with a complimentary credit report each month for three months
so you may monitor your report for any further fraudulent activity.
This article is provided for general guidance and information.
It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal,
financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your
attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial
issues involved with credit decisions.