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Protecting Your Credit Following Identity Theft: A Step-by-Step Plan of Action

By , CardRatings contributor
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Protecting Your Credit Following Identity Theft: A Step-by-Step Plan of Action

New changes in the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) regarding identity theft are presented here. Further detailed information can be found at the Federal Trade Commission site, http://www.ftc.gov/, under Fair Credit Reporting Act . This is just a general step-by-step guide to start the process.

File Police Report:

  1. It is very important to establish time of discovery and action.
  2. Submit relevant copies of documents relating to the case.
  3. Itemize all creditors affected and properly identify them by their name, your account number and amount involved.
  4. Obtain copies of the police report. At the very least get the file number.
  5. Be persistent. Local authorities may tell you they can't take a report. If that is the case then try going to the county or state police. If you're told that identity theft is not a crime under your state law, then ask to file a Miscellaneous Incident Report .

It is okay if you don't have everything needed at the time you are filling out the report. You can follow up later with additional information. Just be sure to obtain an updated police report.


Contact Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA):

Experian
888-397-3742
PO Box 9532
Allen TX, 75013

Equifax
800-525-6285
PO Box 740241
Atlanta GA, 30374-0241

TransUnion
800-680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
PO Box 6790
Fullerton CA, 92634-6790


Call to activate a fraud alert. You only need to call one agency, as they will notify the other two agencies for you.

  1. A credit report will be sent to you along with a credit score.
  2. You will be opted out from creditors receiving your name for solicitation purposes for a period of 5 years.
  3. Follow up the dispute with the credit-reporting agency.
  4. Put your request in writing. Mail it Return Receipt Requested and Certified.
  5. Keep original copy for your records.

When corresponding with the CRA include the following:

  1. Full name
  2. Address
  3. Copy of Social Security Card
  4. Copy of government-issued identification card
  5. Date of birth
  6. Copy of police report or file number
  7. Notarized copy of the FTC ID theft affidavit
  8. Name and account number for each account disputed
  9. Copies of any relevant documentation involved with the ID theft case
  10. A statement that the information is not relating to any transaction by you, the consumer

For extended fraud alerts the CRA needs:

  1. A copy of a telephone bill showing both your home address and the telephone number you want added to the credit report.
  2. A request for a victim statement to be added to your credit file. The statement will say something like "Please verify identity before extending credit. Victim of ID Theft. Phone number is _______"

This will remain on your credit report for 7 years or until you write back requesting it to be canceled. In addition, you are entitled to receive two free copies of your credit report and score within the first 12 months.

The following is an excerpt from the Fair Credit Reporting Act on the FTC web site.

A CRA shall block the reporting of any information in the file of a consumer that the consumer identifies as information that resulted from an alleged identity theft.

A CRA may decline to block, or may rescind any block, of information relating to a consumer, if the CRA determines that:

  1. The information was blocked in error or a block was requested by the consumer in error.
  2. The information was blocked, based on a material misrepresentation of fact by the consumer relevant to the request to block.
  3. The consumer obtained possession of goods, services, or money because of the blocked transaction or transmission.

If a block of information is declined, the credit-reporting agency will be obligated to notify you within 5 business days that the blocked information has been added back to the credit report.

Regardless of the block in place, Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies will still have access to this information to complete their investigations.

Disclosures to consumers

A consumer can request that the first 5 digits of the social security number not be included in the credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that if the CRA has received appropriate proof of the identity of the requester, the CRA shall so truncate such number in such disclosure.


Additional items of importance to do:

  1. Call the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 438-4338 or visit their web site, http://www.ftc.gov/, to report your fraud case.
  2. Request their booklet titled When Bad Things Happen To Your Good Name.
    1. This book contains the needed ID Theft Affidavit.
    2. Be sure to read this book, there may be other relevant organizations you will need to contact in connection to your identity theft case.

Contacting Creditors and Collection Agencies:

  1. Inform creditors immediately to close accounts connected with the identity theft.
  2. On existing accounts, request for a new account number, change pin number, and password protect.
  3. Inform the creditor that you wish to opt out from receiving solicitation by telephone or mail from them or their affiliates unless it is law enforcement.
  4. Ask for their specific address for disputing fraud.

Will need to send in writing, Return Receipt Requested and Certified mail the following:

  1. Full name.
  2. Address.
  3. Copy of Government-issued Identification Card.
  4. Copy of Police Report or file number.
  5. Notarized copy of the FTC ID Theft Affidavit.
  6. Copies of any relevant information proving that such accounts appearing on credit report do not belong to you.
  7. A statement that the information is not information relating to any transaction by you the consumer.

Note: Additional information may be requested, and various lenders may require additional forms.

A consumer has a right to request and receive documentation in connection to the fraudulent account or transaction from the creditor at no charge.

It is important to keep original documentation received in connection with the ID Theft.

If you correspond by telephone then also keep notes of the following:

  1. Time of the call.
  2. Phone number called.
  3. Name of customer service representative who helped you.
  4. Outline of what you talked about with them and what follow ups you will need in connection to the call.

Policies that will be changed on the creditors end to further protect consumers as stated in The Fair Credit Reporting Act:

If a card issuer receives notification of a change of address for an existing account, and within a short period of time (during at least the first 30 days after such notification is received) receives a request for an additional or replacement card for the same account, the card issue may not issue the additional or replacement card, unless the card issuer:

  1. Notifies the cardholder of the request at the former address of the cardholder and provides to the cardholder a means of promptly reporting incorrect address changes.
  2. Notifies the cardholder of the request by such other means of communication as the cardholder and the card issuer previously agreed to.

Prohibition on Sale or Transfer of Debt Caused by Identity Theft as stated in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

No company shall sell, transfer for consideration, or place for collection a debt that they have been notified resulted from identity theft.

Note: Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit:

  1. The repurchase of a debt in any case in which the assignee of the debt requires such repurchase because the debt has resulted from identity theft.
  2. The securitization of a debt or the pledging of a portfolio of debt as collateral in connection with a borrowing.
  3. The transfer of debt because of a merger, acquisition, purchase and assumption transaction, or transfer of substantially all of the assets of an entity.

Notice of Discrepancy in Address

If a company has requested a consumer report relating to a consumer from a CRA, the Fair Credit Reporting Act states if the request includes an address for the consumer that substantially differs from the addresses in the file of the consumer, and the agency provides a consumer report in response to the request, the CRA shall notify the requester of the existence of the discrepancy.

Sources Cited:
Fair Credit Reporting Act


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