Why Check Your Credit Report
I recently presented information detailing annualcreditreport.com and how to get your free credit report. I thought I’d follow up that post with one on what to do when you have incorrect information on your reports. After all, the reason you need to check your reports periodically is because there may be something wrong on them. This incorrect information could indicate fraud, and/or could lead to you not getting a loan (or at least the best loan you can).
Someone I know was recently denied a loan because of some negative history on his credit report. It turns out that when he reviewed his report, his Dad had used his SSN to apply for some credit cards a long time ago and then defaulted. This is essentially identity fraud against your family. Very sad. My point in sharing this is to stress the importance of reviewing your credit report periodically, as you never no who is going use it and screw it up.
How to Dispute Credit Report Errors
If you have a simple error on your report here’s how to go about getting it corrected:
Tell the reporting agency (TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax), in writing, what information you think is correct. Send them copies of evidence of your claim. Keep copies of everything you send and send it certified mail, return receipt requested. Unless they think it’s bogus, they must send to the creditor or information provider to investigate your claim (takes about 30 days). If they agree they will inform the other two agencies. Once they correct the mistake, you can have them send corrected copies to everyone who got one in the past six month.
Next, you need to tell the creditor or information provider. I guess this step is in there to ensure that the information provider sees your complaint, as the reporting agency could have considered it frivolous and tossed it. Same rules apply on copies and mailing method.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
Sample Dispute Letter
But What if It’s Identity Fraud?
If someone stole your identity you need to step it up a notch and take the following extra steps according to the FTC:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Visit this link for more details.
But What if it’s Family?
Like the story I shared above. There are several people who have their identity taken by their own family members. Dr. Phil had a show recently on identity theft within the family. One segment was on a 23 year old girl named Mattie, whose Mom has been stealing her identity and won’t stop. Dr. Phil’s expert on the show was Tom Syta, a FTC Director.
Tom says to treat family members the same as a criminal. During the show “Tom suggests that Mattie, and other victims of identity theft, go to the FTC’s Web site and fill out an identity theft affidavit to take to the credit reporting agencies.” Tom also suggests filing a police report, which may or may not be effective, depending on your jurisdiction and dollar amount involved. Wow, that would be tough to have to file a police report against your own family. I don’t know that I could have done that at 23 years old.
More Stories of Family Identity Fraud
- My Mom Stole My Identity from Mint.com
- Help, My Mum Stole My Identity from AOL.com
- Her Mother Stole Her Identity from PrivacyRights.org
Have you had your identity stolen? If so, how did you fix your credit?