Becoming 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 better 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 some potential 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.
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 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 a good 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:
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 more 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. Call 888-724-2326 today.
My Secure Advantage, Inc. or any of its representatives do not endorse any of the websites or company names listed here.
Information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific personalized investment, financial planning, tax, legal or accounting advice. We recommend that you consult an attorney, tax advisor or accountant regarding your unique circumstances.
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