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Identity Theft

One particular area that is important to note is that often, negative credit is the product of identity theft. Your personal information could be easily used to call a credit card company to change the billing address on your account and then use all your credit on that account, open new accounts in your name, open services in your name, take out other loans in your name, and more. If you are a victim of identity theft, you have to take action. If your identity is stolen, you need to do the following, immediately:

1. Call the credit reporting agencies and report that your identity has been stolen. Contact Experian with a credit fraud alert at: 1-888-397-3742. Contact Equifax at 1-800-525-6285. Contact TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289. You can place either an initial credit fraud alert, or, if you are truly a victim of identity theft that has negatively affected your credit, then you can request that a 7-year extended credit fraud alert be placed on your credit report. That way, when a company is looking into extending credit to John Doe, SS No. 12547899, the company is required to confirm the identity of Mr. John Doe before extending credit.

In addition to making fraud alerts on your credit report, you need to report that your identity has been stolen to the local police in your area and make an identity theft report to the Federal Trade Commission. There is a website the Federal Trade Commission specifically designated for identity theft reporting. Log on to www.ftc.com to report identity theft to the FTC. Once you have a police report that your identity is stolen, you can also write the credit reporting agencies to include your report. A sample form to do so is:

Protecting yourself and your credit, consistent monitoring of your credit history, and careful review of your credit report will enable you to not only know what your credit history is, but increase your chances of being given the credit you need.

If you don’t report errors or attempt to keep your credit rating higher, then negative entries can stay on your credit report for many years. A bankruptcy can stay on your credit for ten (10) years. Other negative credit entries can stay on your credit report for seven (7) years. And even after seven years, if the company sends the note or debt to collection and that debts is “sold off” or “transferred” to another collection agency, you could see that negative credit history reappear for yet another seven years. The only way to attempt to have that entry taken off of your credit report is to monitor your credit report. When you request credit from someone, such as apply for a loan – then all the creditors who have requested to review your credit history are listed. Creditors might look at these requests when determining whether or not to provide credit to you. These requests stay on your credit report for up to two (2) years. What about those requests that are initiated without your approval ( such as a credit card company seeking out credit reports to offer credit cards, employers checking your credit history, or your current creditors monitoring your credit accounts ? Well, those are reported only on the credit report that you, yourself, see, not to any of the credit reports requested by others.

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