What to do about a stolen iden­tity

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Homespot - Broward East - - CONDO & H.O.A. LAW - By Kathryn We­ber,

Tri­bune Con­tent Agency Q:

My iden­tity was stolen to open a Com­cast ac­count. Since I didn’t pay the bill it was sent to a col­lec­tions com­pany. Now I have a record on my credit re­port. Com­cast and the col­lec­tions com­pany tell me I have to dis­pute with the credit re­port­ing agen­cies as they can’t help me. Is it true that I have to go through the credit re­port­ing agen­cies? I did file a po­lice re­port.

Also, do you think it is worth pay­ing a com­pany to help me clean this up? I have no debt and, un­til this, very high credit scores. A:

We’re sorry to hear this hap­pened to you, though with the spate of stolen credit card news over the past few weeks (Tar­get alone had up to 100 mil­lion cus­tomers’ in­for­ma­tion stolen, and Neiman Mar­cus just an­nounced that more than a mil­lion cus­tomers’ in­for­ma­tion is at risk), it isn’t sur­pris­ing.

But for those who have gone through the ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing their iden­tity stolen, you know it’s frus­trat­ing and it can take a huge amount of time and ef­fort to clear up your credit file. And be­ing thor­ough is ex­tremely im­por­tant.

It’s great that you got a po­lice re­port, and it will be help­ful for the next steps. You can of­fi­cially dis­pute the in­for­ma­tion and at­tach a copy of the po­lice re­port to the af­fi­davit you’re sub­mit­ting to the credit re­port­ing agen­cies (Ex­pe­rian, Equifax, and Tran­sUnion) to show that the ac­count was not yours. Also, sub­mit any other doc­u­men­ta­tion at this time, like doc­u­ments show­ing your home ad­dress doesn’t match the ser­vice ad­dress for Com­cast.

You want to send as much in­for­ma­tion as you have that demon­strates that this ac­count was fraud­u­lently opened and should be re­moved from your credit file. Keep copies of ev­ery­thing you send and never send orig­i­nal doc­u­ments.

Be sure to get a copy of your credit re­port from each of the three credit re­port­ing agen­cies to make sure there aren’t more ac­counts open in your name as well.

You can hire some­one to help you, or you can just go to each of the credit re­port­ing bureau’s web­sites and file a dis­pute res­o­lu­tion form. You’ll be able to at­tach a scanned copy of the po­lice re­port, and then the neg­a­tive in­for­ma­tion should be re­moved in 30 to 60 days.

You might also want to put a fraud alert on your so­cial se­cu­rity num­ber, which you’re en­ti­tled to do since your iden­tity has been com­pro­mised. This is a great safe­guard that will help you for the next 90 days. Once you file for a fraud alert with one of the credit re­port­ing bu­reaus, all of the oth­ers will pick it up as well. A fraud alert re­quires a prospec­tive cred­i­tor to con­tact you first by phone be­fore is­su­ing credit in or­der to make sure that it is you ap­ply­ing.

Fi­nally, you should look into sign­ing up for a cred- it-mon­i­tor­ing prod­uct. The dig­i­tal econ­omy makes it easy for peo­ple to steal your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and then use that to get new credit, strip your bank ac­count of cash, buy a car or a house, etc. If you sign up for a credit-mon­i­tor­ing ser­vice, you’ll be able to freeze and un­freeze your credit eas­ily and set up alerts any time your credit pro­file changes.

If you are one of those Tar­get or Neiman Mar­cus shop­pers, th­ese stores are of­fer­ing free credit mon­i­tor­ing for up to a year. You might want to con­sider tak­ing ad­van­tage of it, just in case. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Kathryn We­ber through her Web site, www.red­lo­tuslet­ter.com.

(c) 2013 Kathryn We­ber. Dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency, LLC.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.