Have you ever received a call from a bank asking you to pay up your dues on a personal loan which you never availed or a credit card bill that you don’t possess? Beware; you may be a victim of identity theft where the fraudster used your contact information to take loans, which he will of course never repay. But if the payments become overdue your name may enter the loan defaulters list of the bank and affect your score negatively. Of course you wouldn’t want to suffer the consequences of someone else’s misdeed. Here’s what you can do.
If you find out that you have become a victim of identity theft, you will need to act fast. Remember the fraudster will work as fast as he can to use your information, and before you may even realize it can have a serious negative impact on your credit score. So if you have a slightest doubt about your identity is being misused, you must take necessary steps to shield yourself from the potential damage.
Fixing Your Credit Report
CIBIL score calculation is entirely dependent on the information visible on your credit report. You need to ensure that the recorded information is up to date and correct. Order your credit report from all the three bureaus and analyse each and every piece of information carefully. Verify whether the personal information recorded by them is accurate or not. Verify each and every transaction, and note down the places where you find discrepancies. Do you find any accounts that you did not open? Any hard enquires that you do not recognize? Transactions on the credit card that you did not make? Report the errors to the bureau by filing a dispute online. You can use your identity theft report to get fraudulent information removed from your reports.
Notify the creditor or bank
Scan all your account statements and look for any unusual charges that you do not recognize. Call the financial institution and immediately alert them about the problem. Request them to get the account locked. Working with the card company or bank as early as possible will help prevent future damage. Notify them in writing that you have been a victim of identity theft and request them to stop reporting the information on such accounts to the bureau.
Put a fraud alert
Contact the credit reporting agencies and request for a fraud alert to be placed on your account. Usually you need to call any one of the three bureaus to create the alert. This bureau then reports it to the other 2 bureaus. Initially the alert is placed for 90 days. If you provide a proof that you have been a victim of identity theft, the alert can be extended for seven years. After this alert is placed, any institutions that requests for the credit report will be notified that your identity may be compromised. This way, they will take extra precaution to verify the identity before opening an account. But this extra scrutiny before extending credit isn’t a fool proof method as the fraudster may know the workaround to get away with it.
Under credit freeze no one would be allowed to access your credit report. You need to contact each of the three bureaus directly to get this extra layer of protection. Without any access to credit reports lenders would not open any new account in your name. Though it is a good way of ensuring that the fraudsters don’t open accounts in your name, it may also make it difficult for you to get approvals for any loans or credit cards that you may require. You will need to contact the bureau to unfreeze your account. Sometimes a nominal fees is charged each time you freeze or unfreeze your account when you wish to apply for credit.
Going forward, take some extra precaution with your personal data. Create strong passwords and change them regularly. Shred documents containing personal information before disposing them. Lastly, remain vigilant by regularly checking your credit report.