Identity theft is so common nowadays, that if it hasn’t happened to you personally, chances are that it happened to someone you know. If your identity was stolen and you reported it to the three national credit reporting agencies (CRAs) – that surely is enough, right? Not exactly, says Mark Fullbright, an ICFE CITRMS Certified Identity Theft Advocate. “Not all Identity Theft fraud is resolved with a quick flag on your credit report. Often, victims find their identities were used for Payday Loans or Check Fraud. These types of fraud are rarely reported to the three National Credit Bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. “I’ve assisted victims of identity theft who thought that placing fraud alerts, or even security freezes would fix the problem. What they don’t realize is that the Payday Loan opened in their name was never even reported to the three CRA’s,” warns Mark. According to him, depending on what type of identity theft you experience, you can trace the fraud back to the credit bureau that stores the data and request by law a free copy of your annual consumer report. This annual consumer report contains helpful information about the fraud committed with your Personal Identifiable Information (PII). For example, did they use your full name and address or just your Social Security Number with a different PII. Any information that is considered fraudulent needs to be added to your identity theft report (you can do so here). This information may help the law enforcement agency investigating your fraud case – sometimes fraudsters use real addresses or add their own names as co-signers to loans. It’s also important to have all fraudulent PII removed from every credit bureau you review. Now you know what they used, remove it all or it will become part of your own credit file. Often victims go through disbelief and shock after finding they have been victimized and their identities stolen. Mark’s advice is simple: “don’t overreact, stay calm and look at what type of fraud was committed – was it a Payday Loan, Check Fraud or Utility Fraud?” These companies all report to a credit bureau of some sort. If it isn’t the National Credit Bureaus, then a Specialty Credit Bureau. Once you match the company with their credit bureau, fixing your identity theft becomes a whole lot easier, and you can place fraud alerts or freezes and get free annual reports every year to monitor your identity. What Specialty Credit Bureaus should you check?
- LexisNexis Personal Reports: LexisNexis maintains a vast collection of public records obtained from federal, state, and local sources. Including civil and criminal courts, bankruptcy courts, public assessor’s offices, state property and tax offices, secretary of state offices, and various licensing agencies. LexisNexis also maintains a database of auto and property claims information contributed by insurance companies.
- Clarity Services: Clarity is a credit reporting agency used by payday loan lenders.
- National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange: The NCTUE data report is a record of all telecommunication, pay TV and utility accounts reported by exchange members, including information about a consumer’s account history, unpaid closed accounts and customer service applications.
- TeleTrack: Collects consumer information about, and provides data to, payday lenders, rent-to-own businesses, furniture stores that offer financing, auto finance companies, high-risk consumer finance businesses, non -prime mortgage businesses, non-prime credit card issuers, credit unions, and cable/telecom companies.
- ChexSystems Consumer Report: You can order a report to learn what information, if any, is listed in your consumer file at ChexSystems. If you have been denied an account from a bank or credit union, and ChexSystems was used in the decision process, this information will help you understand what may have contributed to that decision.
- TeleCheck: Provides information on check fraud and conducts check verifications for retailers who accept checks as payment in their stores.
- And of course, the three National Credit Reporting Agencies. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion (Can be found here).
Remember that under the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) you are eligible for a free consumer report from a company or lending service that used your stolen identity to establish credit or services. If they refuse or make it difficult, report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Taking control of your identity after it’s been stolen can be less stressful if you identify the type of fraud you have been a victim of and take the proper steps to remove the fraud, secure your identity, and monitor for activity. Here is the list of Specialty Credit Bureaus provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.