Having your identity stolen and credit damaged can leave you feeling violated and overwhelmed. You may see your credit score suddenly plummet, get bills for accounts you never opened, or even have your existing accounts compromised by identity thieves racking up debt in your name.
Picking up the pieces from identity theft and restoring your credit can be a long and frustrating process, but with the right game plan, you can take control and rebuild. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn ways to fix your credit score after it has been impacted by identity theft or fraud.
Immediate First Steps After Identity Theft
- Protect Yourself From Further Theft: The sooner you take action after identity theft, the better. Start by placing a free 90-day fraud alert on your credit file with the three major credit bureaus–Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This flags your reports and makes it harder for thieves to open additional fraudulent accounts.
- Contact the Authorities: Report the identity theft to your local police department. Make sure you get an official copy of the police report, as this will be a key document needed to support your claims when disputing fraudulent accounts and inaccurate information stemming from the identity theft.
- Contact the FTC: Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can file an identity theft report through their website at IdentityTheft.gov to kickstart reclaiming your identity across multiple federal agencies and private institutions.
- Make a Claim: Dispute any fraudulent accounts or charges with each credit bureau and the individual creditors. Provide copies of your police report and FTC affidavit as proof of the identity theft. The more evidence you can supply to back up your disputes, the better.
Ongoing Strategies for Rebuilding Credit Post Identity Theft
Recovering fully from identity theft requires persistence and vigilance over time. But continuing to take specific actions can help you restore your credit.
Pull your current credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com to review all accounts listed and identify any tied to identity theft. Formally dispute inaccurate information resulting from the fraud–like accounts you didn’t open or debts you didn’t authorize–and request removal by the credit bureaus.
The more fraudulent negative information you can erase, the greater improvement you may see in your overall credit score. Submit disputes by mail or electronically and follow up continually until false accounts and charges have been eliminated.
Paying down overall credit balances can also help increase your credit score over time after identity theft–aim for balances under 30% of your total available credit limits whenever possible. Additionally, becoming an authorized user on someone else’s long-standing credit card account can add a positive payment history that boosts your credit mix.
Seeking Legal Guidance for Credit Repair After Identity Theft
Repairing credit score damage and financial fallout from identity theft often requires legal guidance from a credit attorney. Mizrahi Kroub LLP can provide dedicated support in removing inaccurate information tied to fraud, contacting creditors for you, halting collections on fraudulent accounts, recovering lost funds, and negotiating payment plans.
To explore your options for credit repair assistance and identity theft help, contact our team of legal experts at Mizrahi Kroub LLP in New York. Call (212) 595-6200 or reach out online to schedule a consultation.
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