Many Americans like to believe that identity theft won’t happen to them, but the staggering statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics prove otherwise. With roughly 16.6 million identity theft victims in the past year, over half of all Americans are suffering billions of dollars in financial losses and taking a big hit to their credit scores.
Poor credit scores can mean higher balances on your existing credit cards, maxed out credit limits and missed payments, all of which can drop your credit score by nearly 100 points. Fortunately, there are a few essential steps to take that can help you repair your credit after identity theft. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you can slowly start to repair your credit by taking action with these three tips.
Alert The Authorities And Your Lenders
Because most victims are not aware that their identity has been compromised until they detect a negative circumstance weeks or months following the actual breach, many instances of identity theft go unreported. If you suspect your identity has been stolen, it is imperative to file a police report with your local department who can take the necessary steps to track down and prosecute the offender.
Having a formal record on file with the authorities will also make it easier to reinforce allegations of fraudulent charges with your lenders and creditors. Many credit companies will offer refunds for fraudulent charges and can assist in contacting credit bureaus for you. Above all, act fast and be patient as the repair process can be time consuming.
Get A Credit Report
In addition to containing personal information connected to your finances, your credit report is crucial when applying for credit, employment, interest rates, insurance and rent. Everyone is entitled to a free annual credit report from nationwide credit reporting company.
Review yours for errors related to your personal information, credit accounts, public records and credit inquiries. If you detect errors, dispute them with the credit bureau and the lender or bank reporting the errors. Staying on top of your credit report by obtaining one annually.
Keep Records During The Repair Process
Keeping a detailed financial record as you work toward repairing your credit is one of the best ways to minimize the damage of identity theft. Nothing is too insignificant to hold on to. Whether it is a simple call log of the people you’ve spoken to, police reports or letters sent to your credit bureaus, these documents are essential to keeping you on track as you work toward repairing your credit.
Meghan Ross is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
For more information, visit CBS Chicago’s Identity Theft section