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I’m the victim of identity theft. How can I ensure that this debacle doesn’t affect my credit score?


The first step is to place a “fraud alert” on your credit reports. It’s very easy to do. Contact the fraud division of any of the three main reporting agencies and state that you have been a victim of identity theft. The agency you call is required to tell the other two. By reporting the identity theft, you are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies. That will give you a clearer picture of what fraudulent activity may have occurred.
Here are the phone numbers:

TransUnion, 800.680.7289
Equifax, 800.525.6285
Experian, 888.397.3742

The Federal Trade Commission advises consumers to scour their reports for credit accounts that they didn’t open or requests for credit from companies that they haven’t contacted. They should also confirm that all details on all items in their reports – name spellings, addresses, Social Security number – are correct.

If you spot inaccurate information in any of your reports, notify the relevant agency. You should also file an identity theft report with police and close all accounts that you suspect were opened fraudulently or that have been tampered with – an erroneous change of address, for instance. Once you have taken these steps, remain vigilant, continually checking your reports to see if anything else is amiss.

-Conrad de Aenlle