Success Story: Smart Steps for a Victim of Identity Theft

a quote from jenny in Massachusetts that says, 'When I was trying to resolve it on my own... I was very, very distraught, upset, wasn't sleeping, [but] I felt immediately relieved when I got [my FRS's] help.' with a bluy overlay covering people's faces in the backgroundBecoming a victim of identity theft can lead to ongoing financial consequences and major stress.  In this day and age, it’s not a matter of if but when you become a victim.  Take this moment to read how one victim was “immediately relieved” because of the smart steps she took – steps you can take as well to protect yourself.

When Jenny found out her bank was going bankrupt, she didn’t realize the problem would get worse.  Turns out, there had been some trouble with identity theft, which led to unlawful use of her debit card.  Someone used her information to spend her money.  Because the bank was dealing with the real possibility of closing its doors, it was difficult getting information and knowing how to move forward.

That’s when Jenny took advantage of her identity theft protection program and spoke with her personal Fraud Resolution Specialist™ (FRS), Rachel.  Jenny said, “I literally felt, when I was trying to resolve it on my own, that it wasn’t going to get done, and it was completely out of my control.  I felt that it was going to ruin my credit, and I was either going to have to pay the fine for something I didn’t do or have to go to court and then have to pay more than the fine.  I was very, very distraught, upset, wasn’t sleeping at night, crying… and then I felt immediately relieved when I got [my FRS’s] help.”

Together, they established two goals: (1) work with the bank to retrieve the funds that were lost and (2) clean up Jenny’s credit, which had been damaged by the fraudulent activity.  From there, Rachel not only shared with Jenny the proper steps to take but walked with her until the goals were met.  Here are some of the things they put in their action plan….

Place a Fraud Alert

First, they contacted the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to alert them of the fraudulent activity, and Jenny placed a fraud alert on her credit reports.  A fraud alert makes it harder for identity theft to occur because changes require verifying your identity.  That means, if you have a fraud alert on your credit report and a business tries to issue a new line of credit, that business must confirm your identity first.  You can learn more about fraud alerts or place one on your own credit report through the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Review Credit Reports

Rachel also suggested that Jenny actually request her credit reports, so they could review them together and search for any errors.

Reviewing your credit report is a good practice because it can show you suspicious activity that alerts you to identity theft – like a fraudster trying to open a line of credit in your name.  Even if you aren’t at risk of becoming a victim, looking at your reports also gives you the opportunity to find and correct errors.  In a study on the accuracy of credit reports, one in four people found errors on their reports.1

You are entitled to one free credit report every twelve months from each of the three major credit bureaus.  To get a copy of your credit report(s), visit annualcreditreport.com.  You’re also eligible for a free credit report (outside of the twelve month cycle) if you meet certain requirements; for instance, if a business denies your application for insurance because of your report, you can request a free report within 60 days.  If you have any questions about how or when to get your reports, you can always talk to a Money Coach who is a Certified Credit Counselor.

Fix Credit Reports

Another step in the action plan was actually disputing the errors and cleaning up the credit reports.

Each of the three bureaus has a process for getting rid of inaccurate information, so the first step of disputing an error is to look at the report on which you found the error and research that corresponding website.  So, if you see an error on your TransUnion credit report, you can go to the TransUnion website and read about their suggested process for handling corrections.

Here are some basic steps the Federal Trade Commission suggests for handling revisions:

  1. Tell the credit bureau, in writing, about the errors, and include copies of documents that prove your point.  Clearly notate the information in question and why you think it’s an error.  Stick to the facts.
  2. Make sure to send your dispute letters via certified mail and request a return receipt so you can keep records of what the credit bureau received.
  3. Repeat steps one and two with the information provider (i.e. whoever provided the incorrect information to the credit bureau).

Experience Results

Jenny felt overwhelmed with the tasks that needed to be done, so she was grateful for the help of her Fraud Resolution Specialist™, Rachel.  Jenny had this to say about her experience:

“I was so happy with the outcome; I couldn’t have asked a company to be more helpful….  I felt that somebody was on my side that knew what was going on, and could have some sort of authority with the bank, and after all the phone calls and trying to resolve it and sending a great letter to the corporate office, I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.  I received the amount back, and my name was cleared, and the collection agencies weren’t calling anymore, so I was happy I used [this program] and would recommend [it] to anyone.”

Before, Jenny felt lost and stressed and out of her league.  Now, she feels confident in the security of her identity and her finances.

Don’t wait to be a victim before you reach out for help.  Members can get identity theft protection that includes identity monitoring, real-time alerts for suspicious activity, and more.  Members can rest easy knowing they’ve got someone watching their back when it comes to identity theft.  Call 888-724-2326 today.

 

1“In FTC Study, Five Percent of Consumers Had Errors on Their Credit Reports that Could Result in Less Favorable Terms for Loans.”  Federal Trade Commission.  N.p.  11 Feb. 2013.  Web.  6 Nov. 2013.