I don’t know how to fix an identity theft credit score! Maybe you are in such a crisis and don’t know where to begin. It can be very frustrating!
Victims of identity theft most often experience a dip in their credit score. This is because the thief may have run up new debt on the card or applied for loans.
Getting another loan can be quite difficult in such circumstances and it is frustrating.
How Identity Theft Affects Your Credit Score
The impact of a messed up credit score is far-reaching. What does a ruined credit score imply?
- It could mean the amount you are eligible to borrow reduces, the interest rate could increase, and lending terms could generally have less wiggle room.
- You may have to pay more in insurance premiums.
- You might have to postpone buying that house you’ve been eyeing for a few more years.
- Those that consider it a speculative investment to allow them take out a line of credit for something they haven’t yet planned for will no longer have that option.
The implications are life-altering! Having the option to borrow and getting optimal borrowing rates works in your favor in the long run. For that reason it should be guarded as much as possible.
Thankfully, a dent to your credit report can be remedied. You can take several steps to bring your identity theft credit score back to where it was.
Where To Begin
Identity theft can drastically affect your credit score and the sooner you catch it, the higher the likelihood of less damage. The thief can keep digging deeper into your pockets with every transaction.
Change all your passwords, PINs, and login details.
Keep a record of all your transactions so you can easily cross-reference and identify a transaction that didn’t originate from you.
2. Place a Fraud Alert
Talk to one of the three credit reference bureaus. These are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Have them place a fraud alert or freeze your credit altogether. Whichever company you call is expected to share the information with the other two.
A fraud alert brings to their attention that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. That way they will pay extra attention to your account and will be cautious about lending you money.
Any time someone tries to access credit in your name after placing a fraud alert, the business will ask for identity verification before consenting.
Placing a fraud alert is free.
A credit freeze locks all access to your credit report until the freeze is lifted.
3.Report the Identity Theft
You will need to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission using the online form. Creating an account with FTC will ensure they take you through every step of the process, including the recovery plan, and pre-fill letters and forms for you.
If you choose not to create an account, you will need to print and save your Identity Theft Report and recovery plan immediately. It will no longer be accessible once you leave the page.
Where you are required to, report the issue to the police or sheriff.
Furnish the authorities with all the necessary information including a copy of the FTC Identity Theft Report, proof of your address, a government-issued ID that has a photo, and proof of theft. Keep a copy of the report.
In instances where you don’t know the perpetrator, local law enforcement may not write a report. Take note of when you filed the report and who you spoke to.
4.Close All Affected Accounts
You can now call the companies where the fraud occurred and explain the situation. Ask them to close the account.
Make sure they provide you with a letter that frees you of any liabilities relating to the fraudulent account.
The letter should also state that the account isn’t yours and was removed from your credit report.
Keep this letter safely in case the account still shows up in your credit report later.
The sooner you close the accounts the higher the likelihood of the companies not holding you liable.
5. Highlight and Dispute All Inaccurate Charges
Send communication to the three credit reference bureaus with a list of all the fraudulent transactions and ask that they remove them.
Make sure to send a copy of the FTC Identity Theft Report or police report.
They should respond within 30 days of receiving communication from you. Make sure they confirm with a letter.
6. Correct Your Report
It would be best to reach out to the credit reference bureaus asking them to block all fraudulent transactions from your credit report.
You will need to show them proof of identity plus the FTC Identity Theft Report, highlighting the relevant transactions.
You have the right to block this information from your records.
After such a scare, you want to be a little more alert about your account activities. Take a look at your credit reports as often as possible.
In the event debt collectors are attempting to collect debts you know nothing about, take the time to stop them.
If you know of a Social Security number that is being used inappropriately, it would be best to report it. Report and replace any government-issued identification that is lost.
If a person is arrested and uses your name or credentials, reach out to whichever agency apprehended the perpetrator. File an impersonation report and avail all your details so they can exonerate you.
There may seem to be a lot of back and forth but it is possible to fix your credit after identity theft. Take it all in your stride and keep calm through the process.
Once restored, be careful to keep your Social Security number hidden at all times. Whenever you leave the country, don’t pay for items using your credit card.
Keep tracking your credit score as you go along and remember, with a little patience and clarity of mind, it is possible to recover.