Identity Theft

Identity theft is now the fastest growing crime in the United States with more than two million victims complaining to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) each year that their credit identities have been used by another person to obtain credit cards, loans, mortgages, leases and other financial benefits.  This crime is growing at such a fast rate that your odds of becoming a victim have increased from 1 in 250 just a few years ago to now 1 in 20.  This is because identity theft is an easy crime to commit and it is even easier to get away with -- if you commit identity theft, your odds of ever being caught and prosecuted are about 1 in 750.

The problem with identity theft is that much of it could easily be prevented if Congress would pass laws requiring lenders and sellers to thoroughly verify each and every credit application, but if the did so, it would cost the banking industry billions, so they don't require them to.
Millions of Americans become the victims of identity theft each year.  Have you been a victim of identity theft? If not today, odds are you will be in the coming years.  Use the the information we have provided to prevent identity theft and if you have already become a victim, try and resolve the mess as quickly as possible: 

Tips on Preventing Identity Theft
Can You Stop Identity Theft with Credit Monitoring?
True Stories of Identity Theft
Opt Out of Credit Offers and Direct Marketing
Watch Out for These Scams
What If You're a Victim of Identity Theft
Resources
Unfortunately, because the banking industry has a very powerful lobby and contributes significantly to your congressional representatives' election campaigns, Congress allows lenders to pass on the cost of issuing easy credit and identity theft clean-up to you, the consumer.  

The problem with allowing things to continue as they have is that cleaning up the mess left by identity theft is very time consuming and stressful, not to mention expensive.  You will incur about $1,200 in expenses such as postage, telephone calls, notarized statements and such.   And as unbelievable as it sounds, if the person who has assumed your identity commits crimes in your name, you can find yourself being arrested.  You might be pulled over one day on a traffic stop and suddenly find yourself being arrested for crimes you supposedly committed in another state and hauled off to jail to await extradition.
 
Secondly, your credit rating can be ruined for a significant period of time.  It doesn't sound fair that the credit bureaus don't immediately remove all of the damage caused by the thief from your credit file, but they don't, and Congress allows them to continue to report such information, even after they have been informed of the identity theft.

Some people actually give up and just pay off the charges made by the theft because its the only way they can improve their credit rating.  But you shouldn't do this.  Instead, insist that the information be deleted from your credit report.

Have you been a victim of identity theft?  If so, use the information we have provided to try and resolve the mess as quickly as possible.

What to Do If You're a Victim of Identity Theft 

Step 1:  Contact the Three Major Credit Bureaus. -- You should contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian).  Tell them that you are a victim of identity theft and that you would like to put a freeze on your credit report.  The credit bureau might try and talk you out of this and tell you that you should just put a fraud alert on your credit file; however, having one's file flagged with a fraud alert has not proved effective for some victims of identity theft who have reported that lenders just kept on issuing new accounts in their name to the thief, even after their credit files were flagged with a fraud alert.    A credit freeze prevents anyone from looking at your credit report, thus, the thief cannot obtain new loans, credit or other services in your name.    The telephone numbers of the three credit bureau fraud departments are:

Equifax    888-766-0008
Experian  888 397-3742
TransUnion 800 680-7289
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Other Credit Topics:   Credit Rating   l    Credit Cards     l    Credit Reports   l    Scams
It would be a good idea after telephoning the credit bureaus to send certified letters to each agency advising them of same. 

It is doubtful that the three credit bureaus will remove the false accounts from your credit file at this point in time since an investigation has not been completed.  However, if they will not remove the false accounts, you need to insist that they at least indicate the account is in dispute or under investigation for fraud if it is to remain on your credit report.

Order Your Credit Report. While you're phoning the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file, you also need to order a copy of your credit report to check for accounts that you are unaware of or have been fraudulently opened in your name.  Since you believe you are the victim of fraud, you are entitled to a free copy of your report from each credit bureau.   You are entitled to a free credit report once every 12 months anyway per federal law. 

Next topic:  How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft