Identity theft has affected millions of people in one way or another. Notifying credit bureaus who in turn issue a fraud alert on your report is an important step in stopping the fraud from ruining your credit.
The alert warns lenders and creditors of the ID theft, requiring them to verify your details before approving new financial facilities. The question that many struggle with is this; how do I remove identity theft from my credit report?
If left to run its course, the alert typically stays for 12 months before it expires, after which it is removed from your credit report. However, you can have it removed earlier, by following these steps;
Step 1: Request Credit Reports
You are entitled to free annual credit reports from the three national credit reporting bureaus. However, in case of fraud, the bureaus will furnish you with additional reports during the year- free of charge.
Step 2: Request Removal of the Identity Theft Alert
With the report in hand, the next step is to take note of the alert that you want to be removed and submit a request to the respective reporting agency:
Experian: To remove an alert, Experian requires you to fill this letter. The mail should be accompanied by copies of an official ID card, utility bill, and a statement from a financial institution or insurance.
Equifax: You can reach the Equifax fraud center online by sending a letter to this address. The request should be accompanied by a copy of a document that validates your identity and another that validates your address.
Transunion: For Transunion, you can order cancellation of the alert online by login in to the agency’s fraud alert portal.
Note: The agencies will require fool-proof documentation before they can effect changes to your report. The reason being, scammers can use the same avenue to have the alert lifted, allowing them to continue running their scam. As such, be diligent and patient as the verification process is underway.
Step 3: Follow Up on the Request
As long as the alert is on your report, you could be disadvantaged while trying to get new lines of credit. Even though the alert shows that the right steps are underway to correct the ID theft, creditors will be less inclined to honor a request that is ‘potentially’ fraudulent.
If the reporting agencies are taking too long to effect the changes, you may require extra effort to get your creditworthiness back on track. You should follow up with complaint letters, calls, etc. basically, any method at your disposal.
You may also have to furnish the agencies with police reports and court documents exonerating you from any fraudulent allegations. The process can be tedious and might require the assistance of a lawyer. Through a legal representative, keeping debt collectors from your back can be made easier as well as fighting fraudulent charges.
Stopping a line of credit from being used by identity thieves can be a long process. Once affected, getting the security alert removed from your credit report can prove even more tedious. By following the above steps though, you can get fraudulent credit lines and resulting alerts dropped faster.