Today I'm gonna walk you through exactly what to do if you are the victim of Identity Theft, and then I'll show you how to get all the items related to Identity Theft off of your Credit Report fast!
The FTC just released their 2022 Fraud Report, and "Identity Theft" has topped their list of complaints for the third year in a row!
The chaos of the Pandemic gave scammers countless new ways to steal our identities, and the more time we all spend online, the more opportunities criminals have to use our information, destroy our credit, and ruin our lives.
The good news is there's a simple strategy to fight back against Identity Theft, and I'm going to show you exactly how to do it!
HOW THIS RELATES TO US
For anyone new to Credit Repair, Identity Theft happens when someone steals your personal information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, and uses it without your permission.
This can lead to bogus credit card charges, late payments for items you didn't purchase, overdraft fees, and even cases of people getting new credit cards, taking out loans, buying property, and filing for bankruptcy, all in your name!
It's UNBELIEVABLE, and the problem is only getting worse!
In 2022 more than 1.1 million cases of Identity Theft were reported to the FTC, and the financial losses from fraud jumped 30% to over $8.8 billion!
But these numbers don't show the full scope of the problem.
Cyber Security experts believe a huge majority of cases go unreported.
It's estimated that 33% of all US Citizens have been the victim of Identity Theft at some point in their lives. Over 1 million CHILDREN become victims of Identity Fraud every year. Nearly half of all adults are so devasted by the experience that they can no longer trust friends or family members.
In other words, Identity Thieves don't just ruin finances. They destroy lives. They cause so much damage that it can take months or even years to fully recover. So it's essential to protect yourself before fraud happens and fight back immediately when it does!
THE THING TO REMEMBER
The more active we are online, the more we shop and use Social Media, the more we put ourselves at risk of having our identities stolen. So, familiarize yourself with the warning signs of fraudulent activity.
If you notice unfamiliar charges on your bank or credit card statements, if you learn there's a new line of credit opened in your name, if you're denied credit or your credit score drops for some unknown reason, or if you start receiving unexpected bills or phone calls from debt collectors, these are all signs of potential fraud, and you need to take action immediately!
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
Identity Theft is an extremely stressful situation that can ruin your credit and can cost you a fortune! So, the faster you fight back, the easier it will be to recover mentally and financially.
Resolving an Identity Theft situation may seem like an overwhelming task, but with some guidance and persistence, it's actually pretty simple.
If you're the victim of Identity Theft, you may want to hire a Credit Repair professional to assist you because the process can be draining, and there's no shame in asking for help!
If you're a Credit Repair professional, I want you to know that this process has been proven to work for countless clients, and you should consider adding Identity Theft Resolution to your skillset.
With that being said, before I explain the process, I need to be clear: This should only be used for cases of ACTUAL Identity Theft!
I say this because some unethical people have tried to use it to cheat the system and "sweep" everything off credit reports, including legitimate items. So, consider this a warning. This process involves filing a police report. If you lie and try to do this with anything other than ACTUAL Identity Theft, it means you falsified a Police Report, and that's very illegal. So, don't do that.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you believe you are, or about to become, a victim of identity theft, there are 8 Simple Steps to fighting back and resolving it.
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS
STEP 1: Contact the 3 Credit Bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and Transunion
Ask each bureau to place an Initial Fraud Alert on your Credit Report and request a free copy of your Credit Report. This lets everyone know there's a potential issue and gives you the opportunity to review the details for free.
STEP 2: Immediately change ALL your passwords and pins. This will stop the thief from accessing your accounts.
STEP 3: Review your Credit Reports with all 3 Credit Bureaus. Determine which accounts are legitimate and which are fraudulent.
STEP 4: Contact the 3 Credit Bureaus again and ask for two things…
First, ask each Bureau to place a Freeze on your report. This will stop the Bureaus from releasing your Credit Report to lenders. If any crooks try to submit applications for credit now, they will get rejected.
Next, ask the Bureaus to place an Extended Fraud Alert. This will notify you if anyone tries to open an account in your name for the next 7 years.
STEP 5: Contact each of your Creditors. Notify their Fraud Departments that your identity has been stolen and request a Freeze of your accounts.
STEP 6: Visit IdentityTheft.gov and report the fraud to the FTC.
STEP 7: File a Police Report with your local police department.
It's extremely important that you list all the fraudulent account details in the police report, and when you're finished filling it, request a physical copy of it. You'll need it for the final step.
STEP 8: Dispute the fraudulent items with the Credit Bureaus and the Creditors.
And do it in writing.
First, fill out a Dispute Letter. Then fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit and get it notarized. Then send BOTH, along with a copy of the police report, to each of the 3 Bureaus and each of the Creditors impacted by the fraud.
If you have a Credit Repair Cloud account, you can find the Dispute Letter you need and the Identity Theft Affidavit in our Letter Library. Just search for "Victim of Identity Theft (With Affidavit)."
The affidavit formally documents the investigation. And the Creditors you contact are required by Federal Law to remove the disputed items from your Credit Report until the investigation has been completed.
For these Fraud Disputes, I recommend sending everything by Certified Mail, with a return receipt requested, to document the process.
At that point, you've done all you can, and it becomes a waiting game.
Within a few weeks, you should start to receive notifications by mail from each of the Creditors, letting you know the outcome of the investigations.
In most cases, the Creditors will side with the victim, delete the account from the Credit Report, and that's the end of the story.
In some cases, the Bureaus or Creditors will drag their feet or ignore you, and if that happens, you may need to follow up or repeat the process until you get it resolved.
JUST DON'T GIVE UP!
MY FINAL POINT
It's estimated that there's a new victim of Identity Theft every 22 seconds, and 87% of people have some form of sensitive information exposed online. If you're one of those people, take a few minutes to protect yourself and your loved ones. Check your financial statements, review your credit reports, and if you notice anything suspicious, fight back immediately!
I'll end by saying…
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So take care, Credit Hero!
Keep Changing Lives!