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Monday Mailbag 10/1/2018

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Question:
I received an alert stating that an account was created using my social security number. When I spoke to a rep @ Cap One, he told me to just keep an eye on my credit to make sure that nobody tries to apply for new things using my information. Should I be doing more?

Answer:
One thing that you could do to protect your identity and add another layer of security is initiating a fraud alert on your credit report. A Fraud Alert is a free service provided by the 3 credit reporting agencies which will warn you if anyone tries to access your credit file or open any accounts in your name.

What happens is, when you initiate the Fraud Alert, you input a phone number, then, if anyone tries applying for anything in your name, the creditor will call that phone number to confirm that it is really you who is applying for the loan.

If it’s really you who’s applying for the loan then you tell them that yes, you are applying and they will continue forward with the loan but, if it’s not, you tell them that you were not the person who applied and the creditor will not be given access to your credit reports. No inquiries will be added to your credit reports, no accounts will be opened in your name, the identity thief will be stopped dead in his tracks.

You can initiate a Fraud Alert via the following link: https://www.alerts.equifax.com

Once the alert is initiated with Equifax they will notify Experian and TransUnion themselves.

Question:
Do you know of any companies to pay a fee to instantly improve credit score overnight? I’ve heard of someone paying $600-$800 bucks for something like that….you know of anyone? I still want to use your services to remove the negative info but, I need to get my scores up 100 points right now.

Answer:
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a company that can improve your credit overnight, no matter how much you pay them. The FCRA, FDCPA, and FCBA laws allow the credit bureaus and furnishers 30-45 days to complete a dispute, 15 days to complete a method of verification request, 30 days for debt validation, etc…. There is absolutely no way to circumvent these laws, that is why you will never see a legitimate credit repair company advertising anything like that. Permanent positive results that increase your credit scores take a substantial amount of time and work. If you hear of a credit repair company advertising overnight results or something too good to be true… RUN.

Having said that, there are companies out there that sell trade-lines. Basically, they would add you as an authorized user to an old established credit card, something like a 15-year-old credit card with a perfect payment history, a high credit limit ($20,000+), and a very low credit utilization. Getting an account like that on your credit report can have a tremendous impact on your credit scores but, it typically takes 30-60 days to get the creditor to report the account on your credit file and the increase is temporary since the account will eventually be removed from your reports.

There are companies out there that do this but, we don’t really know of any reputable ones and have hears stories from clients where they have paid hundreds of dollars for a trade-line and it either never reported to their credit reports or reported and disappeared after a few weeks.

If you’re interested in permanently improving your credit scores, it will take time. You will need to pay your bills on time, pay down your credit cards or establish your credit, you will need to limit your inquiries and keep a good mix of credit, and you will need to work on removing your past derogatory information by leveraging all of the consumer protection laws including the aforementioned FCRA, FDCPA, and FCBA to name a few. Or you can hire a legitimate credit repair service to conduct the work on your behalf. And you can’t realistically expect to remove 7-10 years of bad credit from your credit reports overnight.

Are you ready to get started with your journey to a better credit score?

 

Why Choose CreditFirm.net?

Assurance. Our Credit Repair process was developed by experienced attorneys.

Speed. Documents are typically processed and sent out for investigation within 3-5 days.

Support. Award-winning customer service guarantees your satisfaction.

CreditFirm.net Review

Credit Report Special Messages

June 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Blogs, Credit Report

credit report special messages

Consumer access to credit reports has made knowing what is being reported about you a lot easier than it used to be but, one thing your credit reports won’t show you are the special messages your lender gets on their credit reports.

Usually located below the reports themselves are messages that your lender will see on their credit reports giving them additional information about you and warning them of any possible suspicious activity.

These messages include information which can stop you from getting approved for a loan.

Since you do not have access to lender reports and the credit reports you have access to omit this information, let’s go over these 5 messages to see if there is anything that you may need to address before applying for a loan.

1. ID Mismatch Alert
This message appears when the inputted address, social security number or last name does not match the information on file with the credit reporting agencies.

What does this mean?
To a lender, this means that you may have recently moved, got married, or are at risk for Identity Theft. At this point, the lender may request more documentation as proof of your residency in the form of utility bills, 2 most recent paycheck stubs, most recent bank statement, and rental or mortgage agreement. As well as proof of your identity in the form of your social security card, ID, or birth certificate.

What to do?
Make sure that the name, address, and social security number that you have given the lender are 100% correct and that the information is reporting in your credit reports. If you have recently moved or changed your name, update the information with your lenders and credit bureaus and give them enough time (30-60 days) to update the information in your credit file.

2. High-Risk Fraud Alert
This message appears if the inputted address, social security number or phone number that you have provided your lender have been recently used in suspected fraudulent activity.

What does this mean?
This means that either your home address is being reported as a commercial or business address, that your social security number belongs to someone who is deceased or that your social was never actually issued by the Social Security Administration.

What to do?
Make sure that your home address is not linked to a business. If you’re operating a business get a PO Box or UPS Store box and get a proper business address. Make sure that your social security number is legitimate and correct. If there is an issue with the social security number contact the Social Security Administration to resolve the issue.

3. SSN Year of Issuance
This message reports the state where your social security number was issued as well as either the year or the range of years when the social security number was issued as well as your age when the social security number was issued.

4. OFAC Name Screen
This message reports the result of your information being cross-checked against the U.S. Treasury Department’s OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) database.

What does this mean?
In most cases the result will return no matches but, if the system designates you as a person who is on the OFAC list, you will be turned down for your loan. Point blank. The OFAC database contains persons who are drug traffickers, money launderers, terrorists, and other SDNs (Specially Designated Individuals) who not allowed to do business within the United States or who have economic sanctions against them.

What to do?
If you find an OFAC alert pop up on your credit report due to a case of mistaken identity, contact the credit reporting agencies. In most cases, the OFAC search only checks names, not other identifying information such as date of birth, social security number, etc… so contacting the U.S. Treasury Department won’t be much help. Contact the credit bureaus and request that the alert is removed from your credit file. If the credit reporting agency refuses to do so, contact an attorney with experience in resolving FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) cases.

5. Fraud Alert
This alert, usually consumer initiated, means that your credit may be at risk for identity theft and additional steps will need to be taken by the lender to verify your identity. These steps usually include calling a phone number which you included when filing your Fraud Alert. Once the lender contacts you and confirms that you are the actual person initiating the application, the loan can proceed.

6. Hawk Alert
This alert is generated if the credit reporting agencies suspect potential fraudulent activity.

What does this mean?
The alert is typically generated when the residential address or telephone number which you input on your application for a loan is also listed as a business address or business phone number. The alert is also generated if the social security number that you are using on your application was issued less than 24 months ago or shows that the owner of the social security number is deceased.

What to do?
Make sure that your home address and phone number are not linked to a business. If you’re operating a business get a PO Box or UPS Store box to get a proper business address and get a separate phone number for your business. If your social security number was issued less than 24 months ago you’ll just have to wait it out and put up with a little bit of hassle from lenders requesting additional documentation to verify your identity. If your social lists you as deceased, contact the credit reporting agencies to straighten things out and prove that you’re still alive and kicking. You may have to get a letter from the social security administration stating that the social belongs to you and has never been issues for anyone else.

The most important point that we want to make is that most of these alerts are there for your safety and protection. They may cause you a headache every now and then but, if you take action, you can get these issues resolved before they cause you too much pain.

 

Why Choose CreditFirm.net?

Assurance. Our Credit Repair process was developed by experienced attorneys.

Speed. Documents are typically processed and sent out for investigation within 3-5 days.

Support. Award winning customer service guarantees your satisfaction.

CreditFirm.net Review

How To Protect Yourself After The Equifax Hack

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Blogs, Identity Theft

steps to protect yourself after equifax breach

A few days into learning that Equifax has been hacked the dust has settled and the shock of the largest security breach in modern financial history has become a part of our everyday lives – what do you do now?

Hacks like this are occurring more and more often and unfortunately, becoming a part of everyday life in the 21st century. Recent hacks include Yahoo, the IRS, the DNC, Snapchat, Netflix, US Dept. of Vet Affairs, Home Depot, T-Mobile/Experian, UPS, Twitter, Evernote, AOL, AMG, Citi, Zappos, Red Cross, Quest Diagnostics, Banner Health, British Airways, Linkedin, the list goes on and on and on.

You can view an interactive infographic of the worlds largest data breaches here.

You can no longer depend on others to protect your private and personal financial information, at this point we must all assume that criminals have access to all of our names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, drivers license numbers, etc…, pretty much everything. Knowing all of this, it’s up to each of us to be diligent in protecting our own identities and the identities of our families.

So how do you protect yourself and your credit?

It’s time to get proactive about protecting your identity and your credit. Follow the following steps to protect yourself from the current Equifax data breach as well as inevitable future hacks.

1. Find Out If You’re Affected

Equifax has created a website dedicated to information about the hack. You can view if your information was impacted by the hack via the following link:
https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/

Click “Check Potential Impact” and enter your information on the following page.
If your information was compromised you will be given the following message;
Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.

You will then be given instructions on enrolling in TrustedID Premier for 1 year at no charge with no credit card required.

NOTE: You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.

TrustedID Premier includes:

3-Bureau Credit File Monitoring
– Credit file monitoring and automated alerts of key changes to your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit files.

Equifax Credit Report Lock
– Allows you to prevent access to your Equifax credit report by third parties, with certain exceptions.

Social Security Number Scanning
– Searches suspicious web sites for your Social Security number.

Equifax Credit Report
– A copy of your Equifax Credit Report.

$1MM Identity Theft Insurance
– Up to $1 million in ID theft insurance. Helps pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses in the event you are a victim of identity theft.

NOTE: There was some confusion whether signing up for the credit monitoring service meant that consumers signed away their right to sue Equifax via an arbitration clause.

On 9/11/2017, Equifax posted an update on their website, which included the following: “We’ve added an FAQ to our website to confirm that enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not waive any rights to take legal action. We removed that language from the Terms of Use on the website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. The Terms of Use on www.equifax.com do not apply to the TrustedID Premier product being offered to consumers as a result of the cybersecurity incident.”

2. File a Fraud Alert

A fraud alert is an instrument given to you by the 3 credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, which notifies lenders and creditors who pull your report to take additional steps to verify your identification before extending credit.

A fraud alert only allows creditors to gain access to your credit reports if they verify your identity. For example, if someone applies for an auto loan in your name and you have a fraud alert active on your credit file, the business must call you to verify whether you are the person applying for the loan before accessing your credit reports. If you do not verify that you are the person applying for credit or simply do not pick up the phone, the business will not be given access to your credit report and loan will not be made.

According to the FCRA, consumers may initiate a Fraud Alert with any of the 3 credit bureaus for free at any time. You do not need to contact each of the 3 bureaus to initiate the fraud alert, by law, once one credit bureau is notified of your request for a fraud alert, they will contact the remaining 2 credit bureaus to initiate a fraud alert with them as well.

There are 3 different Fraud Alerts

1. Initial Fraud Alert
This fraud alert is available for everyone at any time and lasts for a period of 90 days.

2. Extended Fraud Alert
This fraud alert is only available to actual victims of Identity theft or fraud. You will have to forward a copy of an Identity Theft Report to initiate this alert. This fraud alert entitles you to 2 free credit reports from each of the credit bureaus within the first 2 months of initiating the alert as well as another free report within the next 12 months. This fraud alert lasts for a period of 90 days.

3. Active Duty Military Alert
This fraud alert is available to service members on active duty and lasts for a peiod of 1 year.

We suggest that everyone activate an initial fraud alert on their credit to add an extra layer of protection from identity theft.

You may initiate the fraud alert online, by mail or by phone via the following info;

TransUnion:
1-800-680-7289
https://www.transunion.com/fraud-victim-resource/place-fraud-alert
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Equifax:
1-800-525-6285
https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian:
1-888-EXPERIAN(397-3742)
https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html
P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013

Please Note that you can request that a Fraud Alert be removed at any time.

3. Review Your Credit Reports

Get your free credit reports from all 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) at www.annualcreditreport.com. Once you have the reports, review them and look for anything out of the ordinary like suspicious addresses, phone numbers, and account information. If you notice any suspicious activity on your credit reports make sure that you contact the credit bureaus, the creditor reporting the information, the FTC, the CFPB, and if necessary your local law enforcement. If you need help dealing with identity theft on your credit reports contact CreditFirm.Net at 800-750-1416 for help.

4. File Your Taxes Early

The Equifax data breach gave hackers access to your personal data including your name, address, phone numbers, date of birth, social, and other financial information which, in the wrong hands, can be used by criminals to file your taxes and steal your refund. Don’t wait till the last minute, file your taxes as early as possible to safeguard your refund.

5. Be Weary of Scam Phone Calls

Now that your social security number may be compromised and in the wrong hands, be weary of calls from collection agencies or even people claiming to be from the IRS demanding payment on a debt. They may threaten you with lawsuits and jail time and even have your personal info like your social and date of birth to confirm your identity but, the law is on your side. If you receive calls from anyone claiming that you owe them money, whether it’s the IRS, Collection Agency, or Law Firm, you can simply demand that the person stop calling you and forward any future communications to you via standard mail in accordance with the FDCPA. If you receive a document in the mail from a collection agency requesting payment on a debt, consider requesting Debt Validation from the collection agency – which forces the agency to provide copies of documents which you signed with the original creditor corroborating their story and proving your liability in the debt. If you are receiving calls or mail from companies demanding payment on debt that you’re not sure about, contact CreditFirm.Net at 800-750-1416 for help.

6. Check in With Your Local DMV

Part of the security breach at Equifax included access to data such as your drivers license numbers. Although less common than typical identity theft that involves accounts being opened in consumers names, some criminals may attempt to create fake drivers licenses with your information and numbers which may lead to parking tickets, moving violations and in some cases even arrest warrants. Check in with your local Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State office every once in a while and request a copy of your driving record.

Be Proactive About Protecting Your Credit

Stay on top of your credit and personal information, make sure that you keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, and if you have any questions or need help resolving an identity theft or credit issue you can call 800-750-1416 for help.

 

 

Why Choose CreditFirm.net?

Assurance. Our Credit Repair process was developed by experienced attorneys.

Speed. Documents are typically processed and sent out for investigation within 3-5 days.

Support. Award winning customer service guarantees your satisfaction.

CreditFirm.net Review