Various sorts of banking/credit fraud/identify theft is increasingly common. Both small-time criminals and organized crime gangs are involved with stealing personal data. As a result they can compromise accounts or open new accounts in your name. For instance someone may open a credit card, line of credit, or even a mortgage under your name.
There may be accounts open under your name that you're not aware of. This can happen through no fault of your own!
You absolutely must order your (free) credit reports periodically. Inspect your credit file in detail and follow up on any errors or frauds you discover.
The Government has a couple web pages, which also describes what to do if you discover fraud:
Both Transunion and Equifax provide free reports by mail, though it can be a bit difficult to navigate the web site to find the correct instructions.
You can also order a free credit history by phone. There's some danger in providing all your personal info by phone of course (don't use VoIP or any potentially insecure line) and I recommend using a land line if possible.
From start to end, it took me 30 minutes to order reports from both agencies.
Option 1 - use telephone system to obtain personal credit report
Option 1 "disclosure" - to order file
Here are some tips:
Verify the correct phone numbers through their web sites.
If you have one, grab your most recent credit report. The phone system will quiz you about its contents.
If you moved recently, both agencies may not have the new address so you may try using a previous address.
I'm a native English speaker, yet the voice system had trouble differentiating 'M' versus 'N'. You may have to try it more than once.
One agency didn't know my current credit card number on a recently re-issued card. Since they use the CC number for verification, I had to use another CC number to pass verification.
If the data you enter doesn't match, the phone system will say the report can't be ordered. You can try phoning again and modifying something obvious like the above examples.
- Perpetual Bull, email@example.com