Have you checked your credit report lately? If you’re doing all the right things with your credit, you might think that checking your credit is totally unnecessary - you’ve never missed a loan payment, you pay your credit card bills on time, and you don’t have much outstanding debt. The accounts that you’ve opened under your name are all in good standing … or at least that’s what you assume.
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, someone could have used your information to open an account under your name without your knowledge - and they could be damaging your credit score if you’re not actively monitoring your credit history.
Being careful with your personal information can help prevent identity theft in the first place. If you do suspect you’re a victim of identity theft, not to worry; there are ways to help reverse the damage. Here’s how to spot and resolve identity theft on your credit report:
- Check your credit report regularly. Once you pull your credit report, verify that all of the information in your credit history is correct, including your name and address, the list of outstanding debts and the companies they are associated with.
- Check for suspicious activity or accounts. Identity theft and consumer fraud can happen to anyone. Always check for suspicious activity, accounts or lines of credit opened under your name. Someone may have used your name and personal information to open an account and their activity could damage your score.
- Contact the credit reporting agency to report suspicious activity. If you suspect identity theft, contact the credit reporting company to report that you are an identity theft victim. Ask the company to put a fraud alert on your credit file. Placing a fraud alert on your account is free and will stay on your credit report for 90 days. Be sure to record the time and nature of the conversation in writing for future reference.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a police report. You will also want to contact and submit a report to the FTC; this will serve as your Identity Theft Affidavit, which you will need when you file a police report. Keep a copy of both your Affidavit and your police report.