Are You the Victim of Identity Theft? What Can You Do?
Identity theft is not a new thing, and you are not alone if you have become its victim. Most of the people know what it is, but a few of you know how to deal with it. Identity theft can pull your credit score and hold you back from qualifying for a new loan.
Identity theft is a condition when someone else has your personal information which they can use to withdraw money from your account, open credit card accounts and put in loan applications in your name.
If you have become the victim of identity theft, you will end up limitless financial obligations. Certain clues clearly indicate that you have become the victim of identity theft, for instance,
- Withdrawals from your bank account that you have no explanation for,
- A debt collection agency is calling you up for those debts that you did not take on,
- And you find some accounts opened in your credit report that you cannot recognise.
Well, what if the damage is done? You cannot go back in time to reverse what had happened, but you can dispute it to avoid facing the repercussions arising out of it.
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Call credit bureaus to add a fraud alert
Suppose you have got a clue that your identity has been stolen, for instance. In that case, you have been receiving welcome emails and letters from various credit card companies. You should immediately call credit reference agencies to have a fraud alert added on your credit report.
It will notify all credit card companies or lenders that your identity may be stolen and as a result, they would take extra verification steps before signing off on. It will cost you nothing. Further, you do not have to call all credit bureaus. The one you call, for example, Experian, will notify the other two, Equifax and Trans Union. Once you have a fraud alert on your credit file, they will continue to show up for a year.
You may have to freeze your credit report
You may sit back after reporting credit reference agencies of your identity theft. You will likely assume that now it would stop lenders from approving loans and credit card applications. However, you may be expecting much more. It is not surprising to have all applications approved despite adding a fraud alert.
In fact, you may not receive any call from a lender to confirm if it was you who put in the request for loan or credit card. If you do not stop it, you will naturally end up with a big problem. To prevent this from further happening, you should freeze your credit report.
It means financial institutions will not be able to access your credit report. Now you will no longer receive messages like “Your application for unsecured personal loans has been approved”. This is because the majority of applications are approved after a credit check. You have already frozen your credit report, so no lender will be able to look it over.
You may not feel like filing a police report, but it may need to cancel a credit card or close a bank account. Further, in some cases driving licence number is used to open a fake account.
If that happens in your case, you will likely be in deep water. Identity thieves can make you scapegoat for their misdemeanours. Having filed a police report is a good way to avoid any consequences for identity theft.
Have all inquiries removed from your credit report
After freezing your credit report, you will definitely stop receiving messages of approved loan applications like unsecured loans for bad credit and credit cards, but you still have a lot of tasks to do so.
You will have to call the credit-issuing company to have all hard inquiries removed from your credit file. Tell them a complete scenario and show a police report. They will promptly fulfil your request.
Apply for identity theft protection
Since you have once become the victim of identity theft, you will have to be careful in the rest of your life. Freezing your credit report and adding a fraud alert may not be enough to inhibit identity theft. It is always advisable to sign up for identity theft protection. Not only will it prevent your identity from being stolen, but it will also reimburse the money in case of theft.
Identity theft is widespread and dangerous. It can ruin your credit file, and you can end up in jail if you do not take the right action at the right time. Keep checking your emails, messages and credit report to ensure you do not have any accounts opened in your name that you do not recognise at all.