When most people think of identity theft they think of a thief opening up fraudulent accounts under their name and information, charging huge amounts of money. What a lot of people don’t consider is the possibility of a thief gaining access to their own credit reports and learning about where they have credit. If you find that somebody has pulled your credit report without your permission, don’t panic. Stay calm, there are things you can do to protect yourself.
The first is to get a copy of your credit reports yourself if you don’t already have one. This can be done by placing a 90 day fraud alert on your credit report by phone, by visiting the three credit reporting agencies’ websites, or by writing to the three credit reporting agencies if you are having problem with the phone or internet.
Once you have your credit reports you can see all of the companies that currently have accounts under your social security number, and if the thief has started any new accounts.
For lines of credit that are your own, call or physically go to these companies and talk to them about precautions and protections that can be placed on your account to prevent fraud. Most companies will offer a password or pin code for you. In cases of credit cards and some bank loans, you might want to consider changing the account number to make it more difficult on a potential thief. If you have any credit card accounts that you do not use regularly you may want to consider closing them. Make sure you have documentation showing when you have closed any line of credit reported with the CRAs.
If a fraudulent line of credit has been opened by the thief, read Fact Sheet FS 100 on the Identity Theft Resource Center’s website. It will walk you through what to do. After you have secured all of your accounts, consider freezing your credit reports. This will prevent the thief from viewing them again as well as establishing new accounts under your information. You can read about freezing from the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Website., Fact Sheet FS 124.
For continued vigilance, keep track of all statements (mailed or electronic) and watch everything for new activity or charges. Make sure all accounts that are supposed to be closed stay closed. Check your credit reports every year to make sure that everything remains ok and when in doubt, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center at 888-400-5530 for a free phone consultation.
If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Anyone3 fundraising campaign. For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/itrc-launches-anyone3-campaign.