Repairing credit history after identity theft can take as long as two years and sometimes this issue gets so complex it may even mean having to hire a lawyer. This is due to the evidence of identity theft that keep turning up for years after your card is appropriate in the form of false income reported on tax returns and grants or loans that might have been applied for.
If you do happen to be the sorry victim of identity there are some steps that you can take to immediately do a bit of damage control so that any damage made to your credit history will be minimal.
First of all it is crucial to always open your credit card statements and read them. Scan them for errors. If you do spy a charge that you did not make, contact your credit card company immediately. Once you tell them you are suspicious of a charge get ready to be told that you must wait because you can not dispute "unbilled activity" until it shows up on a monthly statement.
The minute you phone the credit card company will probably try to put you off. Tell the credit card company that this is more than just a dispute – you suspect fraud and then immediately sit down and write the company a dispute letter. This should speed the entire process along.
In some cases, the card company provides a form to complete about your dispute. Provide a full description of the disputed item – including the merchant's name, transaction date, amount of the charge and the posting date. Describe the reason for the dispute in a few sentences. Making a federal case out of things tempts the employees at credit card companies to put you off.
You do not have to pay the disputed transaction amount while the company looks into your reason for complaining. You must, however, pay all billed charges that are not in dispute (this is the stuff that You have charged up.) If this is not done while you wait for the fraudulent charges to be cleared, your account may be reported as delinquent. A refusal to deal with business as usual (as in paying your credit card bill) is how most credit reports end up having a lot of damage done to them as the result of credit card fraud.
If you pay for the disputed item and your dispute is found to be valid, you will receive a credit. If you decide not to pay for the item while it is in dispute, and the company decides that the charge is legitimate, you may be charged back interest on the dispute.
If you report that a charge is fraudulent, you may be asked by your card issuer to sign an affidavit that you did not make the purchases in question. An affidavit is a written statement you sign under oath, swearing that the contents are true to the best of your knowledge. Most credit card companies will provide you with this form. Sign, date and return the fraud affidavit promptly to the credit card company so that they can process your case and remove the disputed charges from your account.
Make sure you do all of this fast. Unfortunately, if the 60-day window for disputing charges has expired, there is little she can do except to request that the credit card company make an exception. It is worth asking, even if the company is not required to do so. However within those sixty days your credit report can be done a lot of damage.
It is very important to send dispute letters to the correct address for billing disputes. This is usually listed on the back of your monthly billing statement. If you include your letter with your bill payment it will at best delay your dispute and at the worst, have it lost in a slush pile at the company for more than sixty days making you liable for the fraudulent charges.
You should also immediately phone up any creditors listed and then follow up with a letter that informs them all that you have been a victim of credit card fraud and that you would like to request that they do not report any delinquent payments to any of the three credit reporting agencies.
If you are having any trouble getting anywhere with the credit card companies and you live in the United States, then you can get some help from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.
The Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm) offers free publications on credit cards as well as information on billing rights and how to avoid credit card fraud.
National banks (the word "National" or the initials NA appear in or after the bank's name) and federal branches of foreign banks are regulated by the
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
Customer Assistance Group 1301 McKinney Street
Suite 3450, Houston