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Identity theft is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the United States, according to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. You may be hit by one of several forms of ID theft, including credit card fraud, bank fraud, medical fraud and utilities fraud. The top ways to fix your credit if you’re a victim of identity theft can seem burdensom but are necessary to get you back on your feet.
5 Monitor Your Progress
Repairing your credit after an ID theft involves a lot of work, so keep track of all the paperwork, phone calls and deadlines. Keep original copies of reports that you sent out with letters; copies of the letters you mailed; and the return receipts of certified letters. When placing or receiving calls, write down the date and time of each call. Record the name of the person with whom you speak, his employee or agent ID number, and details of the conversation. Create a checklist of the things that you need to do to clear your name and including any applicable deadlines.
4 Block Disputed Information
When you block disputed or fraudulent information on your credit reports, they don’t show up on the reports. According to the FTC, after you dispute fraudulent information, the respective credit reporting agency tells the businesses in question about the block. The businesses then have to stop reporting information about you and attempting to recover a fraudulent debt. In addition, the business cannot transfer or sell any disputed debts to a collection agency.
3 Create Extended Fraud Alerts or Credit Freezes
Depending on your situation, you may want to set up an extended fraud alert or credit freeze with the credit reporting companies. Extended fraud alerts allow you to obtain two free credit reports within 12 months from each agency. The agency must also remove your name from lists for credit card offers for seven years. Unlike a fraud alert, a credit freeze blocks all access to your credit report until you lift the block.
2 Order Your Credit Report
When you realize that you’re a victim of ID theft, get a copy of your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and Transunion. The FTC states that when you issue a fraud alert with the companies, you’re eligible for a free credit report from each, even if you received a free report within the previous 12 months. Use the report to see whether the thief tampered with any of your accounts or fraudulently opened lines of credit in your name. If you find any errors on your report, dispute them with the respective agency.
1 Act Immediately
As soon as you notice that your identity was stolen, act quickly. File a report with your local police department so you can use it when filing reports with other companies. Then contact your bank, credit card companies, the Federal Trade Commission and the three major credit reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian and Transunion—to let them know about your situation. The FTC recommends sending credit card companies a letter via certified mail with an identity theft report, which contains a copy of your ID theft affidavit and the police report. Don’t forget to contact your phone and utility companies, the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of State. If you think that the ID theft occurred because of stolen mail, contact the post office.