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6 Things You Need to Do if Someone Opens an Account in Your Name

October 24, 2017

It can be incredibly frustrating to learn that someone has opened an account in your name – even more so when you find out at the time of applying for a loan or a credit card. Often impersonators open a single or several credit cards in a consumer’s name, max them out, and destroy the individual’s credit profile. In most cases, victims come to learn of the situation only when they receive a bill from an unfamiliar issuer or when they get a debt collection notice regarding a charged off account they’ve never opened. This can be a horrifying predicament. If you’re faced with something like this, you must do your best to convince the creditors that you didn’t make those charges - and take steps to restore your credit.

In the wake of the Equifax debacle, where the private information of 143 million personal records was hacked, most of us are now much more likely to be the victims of such actions.   Here’s what you can do.

  1. Call the Creditor: The first thing that you need to do is call up the fraud department of the credit card issuer to report the account as being fraudulent. When you report the fraudulent account, the issuer will most likely close the account and begin an investigation. This will at least prevent the thief from racking up more charges in your name. You can obtain the required phone numbers from the card issuer’s website. Nevertheless, be prepared to provide proof, such as a police report or identity theft affidavit, to establish that the account really does not belong to you.

  2. File a Police Report: If you know the identity of the impersonator, you can have him prosecuted. Even if you don’t know who the thief is, this step is important as it will help you to get the account closed. You should also complete an ID Theft Affidavit - this will assist in getting the fraudulent accounts off your credit reports faster.

  3. Pull Your Credit Reports: The impostor may have opened more than one account in your name. To verify if this is the case, check your credit reports at all three of the main credit bureaus – Equifax (ironically), Experian and TransUnion. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you’re automatically entitled to these reports, so you don’t have to pay for them.

  4. Dispute the Accounts: Make sure you dispute the fraudulent accounts on your credit reports by sending a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit and the police report to the credit bureaus. Once this is done, get another copy of your credit report to confirm whether the accounts have been removed or not. If the fraudulent accounts still appear on the report, repeat the entire dispute process. In fact, you can even file a lawsuit against the credit bureau that refuses to remove inaccurate information from your report.

  5. Place a Credit Freeze: By doing so, you deny potential creditors access to your credit reports, so this action stops the thief from opening more accounts in your name. Nevertheless, keep in mind that you’ll need to “thaw” your reports if you want to apply for credit.

  6. Take Precautions to Protect Your Identity: If you are unwilling to place a credit freeze, you can at least get a fraud alert placed on your account. This requires the creditor to confirm the identity of anyone who applies for an account in your name. To prevent future identity theft, you should also change the passwords of all your accounts and shred any documents that contain sensitive information, such as bank statements and receipts. Finally, make sure you monitor your credit reports on a regular basis (or opt for credit monitoring services) to detect fraudulent activity the moment it takes place.

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