Use your credit report to protect yourself from identity theft

Many of us believe that identity theft is the problem of naive or uninformed people. Unfortunately, along with the technology development also various forms of delinquency are constantly developing. We never know what new technique of fraud has just been invented.

Currently, identity thieves have more and more possibilities and ways to steal our identity. Especially electronic transactions give them a huge space to demonstrate their creativity. One of the current most popular method is phishing. For example, in South Africa in 2011, one in 111.7 emails contained a phishing attack.

What do the thieves need your identity for? They can buy things using your credit card, make contracts on your name, rent cars, take loans that you will have to pay for. Generally, being stolen in this way can cost you quite a lot. We rarely know that someone stole our identity immediately. In fact, we realize this fact when it is much too late – we are not allowed to open an account or someone calls us and informs that there is a late payment we were supposed to make. And naturally, we end up with damaged credit.

How to avoid such “surprises”?

You must protect your passwords, identity number, monitor your statements and never give any personal information to strangers, neither personally nor over the phone. These are quite obvious techniques of protecting your identity, but have you ever thought about checking your credit report as a form of protection? Your credit report contains your whole credit history, information about your new accounts, spending and borrowing, payments, new credits. In this way, it becomes a perfect solution to the problem. Checking your report on a regular basis helps you monitor the situation and identify any potential frauds.

When there is your credit report in front of you, check every detail. Analyze dates, check whether there are any late payments, new accounts or enquiries. You will see who looked at your credit and when. Such hard inquiries usually mean that you, or someone who is using your identity, applied for a credit.

Creditors usually check your credit report to assess your creditworthiness before they lend you money. Thus, it is a great opportunity to find out that someone has stolen your identity and is trying to receive a loan for your name. Then, look thoroughly through public records section because there you can find information about potential defaults or legal action against you because of missed payments.

I have found out that I am a victim of identity theft, what should I do now?

The National Credit Act gives you the right to dispute any errors on your report and to have it corrected. Hence, your next step is to contact the credit bureau and dispute the information. It is possible to dispute your credit report by filling a form.  The credit bureau has 20 business days to solve the issue and in case there are some problems, you can turn to the CFPB.