In a society where credit and money significantly impact a person’s quality of life, consumers do everything they can to manage their finances appropriately. They establish credit by applying for credit cards, loans, and other financial products and keeping those accounts in good standing. They develop and use budgets, implement healthy savings practices, and discover ways to increase their earnings. When life happens, and their credit or finances get out of control, most consumers will take steps to make improvements.
Unfortunately, there are instances where a consumer is financially responsible but encounters issues due to fraudulent activities. Cyber thieves access and utilize personal information to open accounts, make purchases, and receive funding. If these activities aren’t immediately identified, they can go on for years, causing issues with the consumer’s finances. You may wonder what to do next if you believe your credit and finances have been compromised by fraudulent activity (or wish to prevent it). Below is some advice.
Check Your Credit Report Regularly
Credit reports provide detailed information about financial accounts in your name. Such data may include loans, credit cards, and other financial transactions. If there is suspicious activity on your account, chances are you’ll find it on your credit report. Reviewing reports at least once every 3 to 6 months can help you identify problems quickly.
If you find new accounts, debts, or transactions you didn’t make or approve, you can dispute these with the credit reporting agency. Once you submit a complaint, the bureau will reach out to the lender or service provider to learn more about the account. If it is proven that the account or transaction is fraudulent, it will be removed from your credit report. After the account is removed, you should see an increase in your score.
Contact Lenders And Service Providers
Sometimes the account is yours, but the transactions are fraudulent. In these instances, you must file a complaint with the lender, creditor, or service provider associated with the account in question. If it’s a credit card company or bank, you should report the unauthorized transactions and cancel or freeze the account to prevent further issues.
If you believe personal data was breached or provided to a third party by a company you do business with, you can request a DSAR to learn more. What is a DSAR? A data subject access request is a formal inquiry from a consumer to a company to disclose how personal information is used. The company must comply and provide reports showing that they uphold federal and state consumer rights and privacy practices. If you find discrepancies or the company is unwilling to provide this information, you can file an official complaint.
File An Identity Theft Claim
If someone has stolen your identity, you must file a claim to protect yourself and your finances. Once you have a claim on file, local and federal entities can conduct a thorough investigation to try and locate and prosecute the thief. A claim also protects you if future unauthorized accounts or transactions are conducted in your name.
Find An Identity Theft Protection Service
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you know it can be a tedious, time-consuming, and expensive experience. It can take years to restore your good name, rebuild your credit, and replenish your finances. As such, consumers are encouraged to find and enroll with a reputable identity theft protection company.
These agencies will monitor your credit and financial accounts and alert you when suspicious activity occurs. They will work diligently to investigate and bring the perpetrator to justice if identity theft occurs. More importantly, you’ll receive financial coverage for legal fees and other economic consequences resulting from the fraud.
Managing your credit and finances is already challenging enough. The last thing you need is to have your status ruined because of fraudulent activity. If you believe you’re the victim of a cybercrime or identity theft, use the advice above to get ahead of it to keep your finances and credit intact.