Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
You have just been denied a loan for a new home because of your credit, which surprises you because you’ve always kept on top of your finances. That’s when it hits you: You’re one of millions of Americans each year whose identity is stolen.
“Most people are going to find out that they have been victims of identity theft at the most inconvenient times,” says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).
Usually, the news comes as part of a background check for a potential job or new apartment. As a result of running that check, people are denied credit due to potentially negative information found in their credit report.
Velasquez’s top advice for identity theft victims: “Don’t panic, but do react.”
After recovering from the initial shock of your identity being stolen, Velasquez recommends taking these five steps to mitigate the damage:
1. Contact any financial institutions or companies where you know identity theft has occurred.
All credit card companies have identity theft departments, and the FTC suggests calling those departments to report that your identity has been compromised. The companies you contact should then close or freeze the accounts for you so no one can add new charges without your permission.
2. Put a fraud alert on your credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies.
Once you contact one major credit reporting agency (CRA) and explain that you’re a victim of identity theft, that agency is required to alert the other two. According to the FTC, an initial ID theft alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open additional accounts in your name.
3. File a police report with your local law enforcement agency.
According to the FDIC, which insures many of the nation’s consumer bank accounts, reporting identity theft in a timely fashion may improve the chances of recovering what you’ve lost and allows the authorities to take appropriate action. Although it’s also important to report the issue to federal authorities, local law enforcement agencies may be able to provide the most direct advice and assistance.
4. Fill out an ID Theft Affidavit with the FTC.
The FTC accepts reports in three ways: on its website at www.ftc.gov, by telephone at 1-877-IDTHEFT, or by mail to Consumer Response Center, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20580. All ID Theft related complaints sent to the FTC are entered into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that law enforcement agencies nationwide and overseas can search.
5. Start monitoring all your accounts.
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you should be checking your credit reports regularly. You can obtain one free copy of your credit report each year from all three major CRAs at annualcreditreport.com. The U.S. Department of Justice also suggests carefully checking monthly credit statements for any suspicious or false charges.
“Of course, the sooner you find out about the problem, the less time has lapsed in which the thief can use your identity,” Velasquez says. “The longer the individual’s personal information is used unnoticed, the more damage is done and the longer it may take to clean up.”
Once you’ve taken these initial steps, you can begin to turn the focus to any long-term steps to repair your good name.
“When you are a victim of identity theft, there is most often not an overnight solution,” Velasquez says. “So act quickly, take good notes, and stay organized. Make sure to take care of yourself emotionally, as identity theft has many [effects] on victims more far-reaching than the most widely known financial impact.”
Megan Craig is a Chicago-based journalist and communications professional who writes mostly about personal finance and consumer issues. She is a former reporter and editor for the Chicago Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @megcraig1.
The Top Six Mistakes I Made After Tax Identity Theft
What to Know About Identity Theft When Buying or Selling Your Home
Identity Theft Protection: How to Safely Carry Your Medicare Card
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.