Credit Report - Correcting Fraudulent Information
A lot is said about what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. But not as much information is available for what to do once you have become a victim of identity theft. This article is an attempt to point you in the right direction should you find inaccurate information on your credit report.
Not all incorrect information on your credit report is due to fraudulent activity, but all incorrect information is usually difficult to remove. Some family members with the same names and respective senior/junior suffixes commonly find information belonging to the other party on their credit reports. In other cases, if you have an exceptionally common name (like Jim Smith) incorrect information may find its way to your credit report without it being the result of actual identity theft or fraud. But no matter how incorrect information gets on your credit report, below you will find the steps you need to take to have it removed.
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) both the consumer reporting agency (the institution responsible for evaluating your credit history and issuing you a credit score) and the business that gave the consumer reporting agency incorrect information about you are responsible for correcting inaccurate information. But it is your job to contact both of those agencies and make sure they follow through.
Consumer reporting agencies have 30 days to investigate and resolve all claims they consider to be legitimate. Once you file a dispute with them, they must forward it to the business that reported the inaccurate information. But it is still a good idea for you to contact the business yourself. But don’t expect them to be sympathetic with you if a fraudulent account has gone to collections. That delinquent account means they haven’t been paid, and that generally doesn’t make working with them a pleasant experience.
If it is concluded that inaccurate information has, in fact, appeared on your credit report then the consumer reporting agency must inform all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) in writing on your behalf and your credit report and your credit score will both be adjusted to reflect the changes.
In the rare event that an investigation concludes that the fraudulent information still stands, you can ask that a statement of dispute be included in your credit file so that potential creditors can take that into consideration before denying you credit or charging you higher interest rates. However, your credit will not be repaired and your credit score may still remain low.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you file an Identity Theft Report (more detailed police report) and that you use that information to contact the consumer reporting agency and the businesses involved. You can read their step by step process here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/defend.html#Whatisanidentitytheftreport
As in all matters of identity theft, acting with swiftness insures that you will experience better results and a quicker resolution. Remember to obtain a copy of your free credit report each year at www.annualcreditreport.com so that you can catch any suspicious activity before much harm is done.