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Recovering from identity theft

Fighting identity theft can be a time consuming and frustrating process. Once you become aware that your personal information is being used fraudulently, your best defense is taking fast action to minimize future damage. You should first contact your creditors to close any fraudulent accounts. Next, notify the three national crediting reporting agencies by calling Experian at 1-888-397-3742 (this number has an electronic menu: You cannot talk to anyone at Experian until you have a copy of your credit report, which includes a report number required to reach a live representative), Equifax at 1-800-270-3435 and TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289.

Experian's fraud alert will remain for 90 days. All three credit reporting agencies (CRAs) will send you a complimentary copy of your personal credit report and, as a further precaution, remove your name from prescreened offer mailing lists. They will provide you with tips for recovering from fraud. They will also offer you the opportunity to request that a fraud alert message be added to your personal credit report for an extended period of time. This message says, "Fraudulent applications may be submitted in my name using correct personal information. Do not extend credit without first contacting me personally and verifying all applicant information at (your day phone number) or (your evening phone number). Date reported-(mm/yy)." This message will remain on your Experian report for seven years.

If you select this extended-time message, all three CRAs will provide you with a complimentary credit report each month for three months so you may monitor your report for any further fraudulent activity.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
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