Having your identity stolen can be one of the scariest experiences. Identity theft can impact your life in ways you don’t even think about. It can affect your job, and your credit rating. Credit fraud in particular can have a devastating effect on your credit report, and your credit score.
Sarah Patterson, an account manager at creditcube.com, says that there are steps to take when you’re the victim of credit fraud, and you should act as quickly as possible. Fast reaction can help to minimize the effects of credit fraud on your life.
If your bank account, or bank cards have been affected, then the first step you should take is to contact them. If you report the fraud before the cards have been used then you have no liability for any purchases afterwards. If purchases have been made, then you have a two business day window to report any unauthorized charges, transfers, or transactions, which will limit your liability to $50. After two business days, you are subject to a $500 liability limit for the 60 days after the mailing date of the statement showing the fraudulent activity. After those 60 days, you may be liable for any and all charges.
Generally speaking, credit cards have zero-liability policies, however, the Fair Credit Billing Act states that customers who are victims of credit fraud are liable for a maximum of $50.
You should contact any of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, or Transunion – and request for a credit alert to be placed on your account. This alert will last for 90 days, but can be extended for 7 years after you’ve filed a police report, or an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission. You could also ask to have a credit freeze placed on your account, but this may cause issues for you if you want to apply for a loan. There may also be a fee for doing this, but this will be waived if there is proof you have been victimized.
When you place a fraud alert on your account, you should receive a copy of your credit report. Check it carefully for anything that look unfamiliar to you, and could be fraudulent. You can have fraudulent activity removed from your report by using an identity theft report. You should also make sure that you request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus, and routinely check for any suspicious activity.
Contact The Federal Trade Commission
You should contact the FTC. While they generally get involved in bigger cases, reporting your identity fraud can help them identify a pattern. You should also print and fill in the FTC ID Theft report and affadavit. These documents can help you when you contact companies to report the fraud. They also tend to be more detailed than a police report.
Contact The Police
You should contact your local police force as well as the FTC. Give them as much detailed, and documented evidence as you can. Not all states have laws regarding taking a police report from a victim of identity theft, but the FTC can provide a cover letter for your local police, stating how important it is that there is one.
Contact Your Creditors
Contact all your creditors, including your credit cards, payday loans, online loans, bank and any other form of credit. Send them a copy of your ID Theft Report. You should also request updated copies of your statements to look for fraudulent activity.
Take Steps To Protect You Identity
You’ll also need to take steps to protect your identity. Contact the DMV to get a new drivers license number. Contact your utility providers in case the thieves are using a bill as proof of address. Change all your online passwords. You should also need to make sure that you destroy any letters with your details on them, and any letters with offers of pre-approved credit cards or loans. If you are applying for a loan, you should tell your lender that you have been a victim of identity fraud, and that your credit report and credit score may reflect that fraud.
Credit fraud can be devastating, but quick action can help get your credit going in the right direction again. If you think you may have been affected by identity theft, then there are people who can provide credit help to guide you through the process.