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Steps You can Take to Repair Your Credit After Identity Theft


Posted on October 12, 2010

It’s one thing to fix your bad credit after you’ve messed it up, but cleaning up the mess someone else made of your credit won’t be as fun. Credit repair after identity theft is no walk in the park, but it’s something that has to be done if you want to get your credit back to where it’s supposed to be.

Fraud Alert

When you realize your identity has been stolen, the first thing you should do is place a fraud alert on your credit report. When businesses check your credit, the fraud alert lets them know that your identity has been compromised and they should take extra steps to make sure it’s actually you applying for credit.

Contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report:

Equifax: www.equifax.com

Experian: www.experian.com

TransUnion: www.transunion.com

A fraud alert is free and only has to be placed with one of the three credit bureaus. That credit bureau will then notify the other credit bureaus.

The fraud alert gives you the right to a free credit report from the credit bureaus. This is in addition to the free annual credit report you get through AnnualCreditReport.com.

A fraud alert doesn’t erase fraudulent accounts, but it will keep identity theft from worsening while you clear up accounts that have been opened in your name.

File a Police Report

Contact your local police department to file a report of the identity theft. Even if the police can’t catch the thief, the police report can help you clear up identity theft when you try to cancel accounts and have them removed from your credit report.

If you have trouble getting the police department to take your statement, the Federal Trade Commission has prepared a cover letter that explains the importance of a police report in clearing up identity theft. If the cover letter doesn’t convince your local police, try another police department, like your county sheriff’s department.

Close and Dispute Unauthorized Accounts

Once you have your credit report, you can figure out which accounts have been opened in your name. You should do two things with each of these accounts. First, contact the fraud department of the business who opened the account to let them know the account was fraudulently opened. The fraud department may want to see proof of the fraud. This is where your police report and any other supporting documentation comes in handy.

Once you cancel the account and make the business aware of ID theft, they should remove the account from your credit report. But, just in case they don’t, you can submit a credit report dispute to the credit bureaus and have them remove the account. You only need to make the dispute with one credit bureau. That bureau is responsible for notifying the other two credit bureaus of the dispute.

Continuing the Process

Credit repair after identity theft usually isn’t a one-time thing. Continue to monitor your credit report for additional accounts that may slip through the cracks.

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