How To Protect Yourself Against FraudPosted on November 17, 2009
There is no single definition of fraud, but some types of credit fraud that occur include:
• Identity theft: the unauthorized use of personal identification information to commit fraud or other crimes
• Identity assumption: long-term victimization of identification information
• Fraud spree: unauthorized charges on existing accounts
Sources of fraud
Just as there are various types of credit fraud, there are also different ways that credit thieves gather your personal information:
• Using lost or stolen credit cards
• Stealing from your mailbox
• Looking over your shoulder
• Going through your trash
• Sending unsolicited email
• False telephone solicitation
• Looking at personnel records
There are several warning signs that credit fraud may be occurring:
• Your credit report contains inquiries or information about accounts that you did not open
• Strange charges show up on billing statements
• Bills arrive from unknown or unfamiliar sources
• You receive calls from creditors or collection agencies
Suggestions for victims
If you believe you are a victim of fraud, you may find the following suggestions helpful:
• Protect yourself: A 90-day security alert gives you time to verify if you are a victim of fraud. If you determine you are a fraud victim, you may add a 7-year victim statement to your credit report.
• Inform creditors: Contact each creditor with the fraud account and inform them that the account is fraudulent.
• Document all contacts: Make notes of everyone you speak with; ask for names, department names, phone extensions and record the date you speak with them.
• Understand the process: Each creditor may have a different process for handling a fraud claim. Make sure you understand exactly what is expected from you, and then ask what you can expect from the creditor. At the conclusion of an investigation, ask the creditor for a document that states you are not responsible for the debt.
• Follow up: Make sure everything a creditor/credit reporting agency has requested is received. It is always a good idea to place a follow up call or send a letter for confirmation.
• Review reports regularly: Obtain another report several months after you believe everything is cleared up. If a new fraudulent account is discovered, you know how to handle it. If your credit report is back to normal, you can feel confident that all issues were resolved as you expected. It would be a good idea to check your credit report again in six months and a year later.
• Don’t throw away files: Keep all notes and correspondence in an accessible file in case they are needed in the future.
• If you feel you have enough information pertaining to the fraudulent activity, then it would be recommended that you file a formal police report. A police report can help protect you if you need to pursue legal action in the future. Consult your local police dept for more information.