Credit Bureaus (United States)*

EQUIFAX EXPERIAN TRANS UNION
www.equifax.com www.experian.com www.transunion.com
1-800-685-1111 1-800-397-3742 1-800-888-4213
1-800-525-6285 1-888-397-3742 1-316-634-8440
* These are all generic phone numbers that get you into their voicemail systems.

Credit Bureaus (Canada)

EQUIFAX NORTHERN CREDIT TRANS UNION
www.equifax.com www.creditbureau.ca www.tuc.ca

The FICO Score

The Fair Isaac Credit Bureau Score (FICO) is calculated by a system of scorecards. The five most important factors in determining the FICO score are:fico score

The FICO Score takes into account all five of these categories of information. No single piece of information will determine your score.

Is FICO Your Ad-Vantage?

A friend and I were having dinner the other night and overheard a man ask a woman who was applying for a home loan about her FICO score.  She indicated her score was high but wished there was another system much different than the big three, because in her words, "There are items on there that are just not right.  Should I be judged by one small period of my life when the last 20 years I've never missed a payment on anything?"

Well little did she know there has been another scoring system that is 5 years old in the industry backed by some big players.  The problem is with this other system, is that FICO had sued them since 2006.  It's only since August of last year that the Eighth Circuit US court of appeals rejected a FICO appeal.  You see

What would having a higher credit score do for you?

    • Get approved for any home loan you want and without paying a crazy interest rate. (Say goodbye to the fear of standing red-faced and angry in some smug banker's office like I did in 1989. With the extra octane of a higher credit score, you'll laugh your way into and back out of the bank, secure in the fact that you got a better deal than 90% of the sad-faced sheep out there.)
    • Refinance your home at a low, low interest rate.
    • Drastically cut down on your auto and health insurance premiums. Don't be surprised if your auto insurance drops by 25% or more. And with today's high health premiums can you really afford to be paying extra for mistakes you made years ago?

Did You Know?

    • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was passed back in the 1970s and updated in 2001.
    • This act was set up to protect your credit rights and to arm you with the tools you need to challenge the Credit Bureaus and Collection Agencies to prove the derogatory information they report on you.
    • For years Fair Isaac (the company who invented credit scoring and for whom the FICO score is named) and the three major credit bureaus attempted to keep the American consumer from having any idea what was on their credit reports. In 2001 outraged consumers finally got satisfaction when Congress UPDATED the FCRA.
    • Under this wide-ranging new legislation the Credit Reporting Agencies must provide you with information about what's in their files and take steps to verify the accuracy of any information disputed by a consumer. The Credit Reporting Agencies can only keep negative items on your report if they can prove their validity. That means that, if you take the proper steps, the credit agencies must remove inaccurate, obsolete and non-verifiable items from your credit report.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IDENTITY THEFT

1. Steps you can take today to protect yourself from identity theft:

Secure all sensitive documentation that you keep in your home or office. Checkbooks, social security cards, billings, and ID cards should be stored away from visitors to your home. It is not always strangers who commit identity theft

Secure your mail. Think about switching to paperless billing and banking statements. Shred (preferably crosscut) all sensitive documentation before throwing them away or recycling. Mail checks at the post office rather than from your home mailbox, or think about utilizing online banking. Pick up new boxes of checks at your local bank branch rather than having them mailed to your home.

Review you bank and credit card activity online throughout the month. This will allow you to detect credit card or bank fraud early.

Check your credit reports on a yearly basis ensuring that all the information and accounts listed are accurate.

Protect your social security number. Never have your social security number printed on your checks. Think carefully before disclosing your social security number out at businesses and ask if you might give an alternate identification number such as a drivers license number.

Keep your home computer secure. Install a firewall and utilize virus protection software. When you replace a computer be sure to clean all information from your old computer using a wiping program.

Choose secure passwords and use varying passwords for your account. Never use common passwords such as pet's names, mother's maiden name, or consecutive digits. Avoid using part of your date of birth or social security number.

To avoid mistaken identity, always use your middle initial when applying for credit.

2. Common signs of Identity Theft

  • Unexpected phone calls from creditors requesting payment for accounts. If you don't recognize the creditor ask for information from them.
  • Being denied credit unexpectedly.
  • Strange or unidentifiable credit card charges
  • Passwords and Pins that stop working
  • Not receiving bills. This could indicate that someone has changed the address on your account so as not to raise suspicion when bills arrive.
  • Unrecognized information in your record such as different names or addresses.



IF YOU BECOME A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT

Alert the Authorities: Report the crime to the authorities including your local police department. Have them note each fraudulent account. Be thorough when issuing the report and make sure you receive a copy of the report for your records. You will need to send the report to your creditors and credit reporting agencies as proof of the crime.

Enlist the help of the Credit Bureaus: A fraud alert will be placed on your credit reports, alerting creditors to call for permission before opening any accounts in your name. You need only contact one bureau, as they are required by law to notify the other bureaus. Unless you live in California, Texas, Louisiana, or Vermont, creditors are not required to abide by the fraud alert so you will still have to check your accounts frequently to ensure that no new accounts are opened. It is a good idea to add a victim's statement to your reports asking creditors to contact you in person to verify all applications for credit made in your name.

Change all account access information: Change and strengthen your passwords. Obtain new PINs for your credit cards and atm cards. If you suspect your social security number has been compromised, contact the social security administration at 800-772-1213 and have a new social security number issued. You may want to contact your utility companies and alert them of your identity theft to prevent the thief from opening utility accounts in your name or using utility bills as proof of address to open new accounts in your name. Lastly, you may want to obtain a new driver's license or ID.

Report all fraudulent transactions to creditors: Call your credit card issuers and alert them to the fraudulent activity. Follow their instructions for formally documenting the situation. contact creditors for any other accounts that have been accessed by the thief or opened in your name. Be sure to document all complaints and try to put them in writing. Retain copies of the documents showing the fraudulent transactions.

File an identity theft complaint the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases.

Keep a log book: Note all contact authorities regarding your identity theft. Keep a list of contacts that you dealt with including their name, title, contact number, date contacted.



REPORT FRAUD

Credit Bureau Address Order Credit Report Report Fraud Website
Equifax P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA
30374-0241
1-800-685-1111 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
Experian P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX
75013
1-888-EXPERIAN
(397-3742)
1-888-EXPERIAN
(397-3742)
www.experian.com
Trans Union P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA
19022
1-800-888-4213 1-800-680-7289-6285 www.transunion.com
FRAUD: YOUR RIGHTS
  • An initial fraud alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An extended alert stays in your file for seven years. To place either of these alerts, a consumer-reporting agency will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include you Social Security number. If you ask for an extended alert, you will have to provide an identity theft report. An identity theft report includes a copy of a report you have filed with a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, and additional information a consumer-reporting agency may require you to submit. For more detailed information about the identity theft report, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
  • You have the right to free copies of the information in your file (your "file disclosure"). An initial fraud alert entitles you to a copy of all the information in your file at each of the three nationwide agencies, and an extended alert entitles you to two free file disclosures in a 12-month period following the placing of the alert. These additional disclosures may help you detect signs of fraud, for example, whether fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or whether someone has reported a change in your address. Once a year, you also have the right to a free copy of the information in your file at any consumer-reporting agency if you believe it has inaccurate information due to fraud, such as identity theft. You also have the ability to obtain additional free file disclosures under other provision of the FCRA. See www.ftc.gov/credit.
  • You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information. A creditor or other business must give you copies of applications and other business records relating to transactions and accounts that resulted from the theft of your identity, if you ask for them in writing. A business may ask you for Your Credit 9 proof of your identity, a police report, and an affidavit before giving you the documents. It also may specify an address for you to send your request. Under certain circumstances, a business can refuse to provide you with these documents. See www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
  • You have the right to obtain information from a debt collector. If you ask, a debt collector must provide you with certain information about the debt you believe was incurred in your name by an identity thief such as the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.
  • If you believe information in your file results from identity theft, you have the right to ask that a consumer-reporting agency block that information from your file. An identity thief may run up bills in your name and not pay them. Information about the unpaid bills may appear on your consumer report. Should you decide to ask a consumer-reporting agency to block the reporting of this information, you must identity the information to block, and provide the consumer-reporting agency with proof of your identity and a copy of your identity theft report. The consumer-reporting agency can refuse or cancel your request for a block if, for example, you don't provide the necessary documentation, or where the block results from an error or a material misrepresentation of fact made by you. If the agency declines or rescinds the block, it must notify you. Once a debt resulting from identity theft has been blocked, a person or business with notice of the block may not sell, transfer, or place3 the debt for collection.
  • You also may prevent business from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft. To do so, you must send your request to the address specified by the business that reports the information to the consumer-reporting agency. The business will expect you to identify what information you do not want reported and to provide an identity theft report.



Complete an ID Theft Affidavit

The affidavit has two parts:

  • ID Theft Affidavit is where you report general information about yourself and the theft.
  • Fraudulent Account Statement is where you describe the fraudulent account(s) opened in your name. Use a separate Fraudulent Account Statement for each company you need to write to.

When you send the affidavit to the companies, attach copies (NOT originals) of any supporting documents (for example, drivers license, police report) you have. Before submitting your affidavit, review the disputed account(s) with family members or friends who may have information about the account(s) or access to them.

Complete this affidavit as soon as possible. Many creditors ask that you send it within two weeks of receiving it. Delaying could slow the investigation.

Be as accurate and complete as possible. You may choose not to provide some of the information requested. However, incorrect or incomplete information will slow the process of investigating your claim and absolving the debt. Please print clearly.

When you have finished completing the affidavit, mail a copy to each creditor, bank or company that provided the thief with the unauthorized credit, goods or services you describe. Attach to each affidavit a copy of the Fraudulent Account Statement with information only on accounts opened at the institution receiving the packet, as well as any other supporting documentation you are able to provide.

Send the appropriate documents to each company by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can prove that it was received. The companies will review your claim and send you a written response telling you the outcome of their investigation. Keep a copy of everything you submit for your records.

If you havenʼt already done so, report the fraud to the following organizations:

  • Any one of the three credit reporting bureaus can place a fraud alert on your credit report. Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. The company you call is supposedly required to contact the other two bureaus (ask!) which will place an alert of their versions of your credit profile.

    Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc.
    (800) 525-6285/ TDD 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to obtain a copy of your report.

    Experian information Solutions, Inc. (888) 397-3742/ TDD (800) 972-0322

    TransUnion (800) 680-7289/ TDD (877) 553-7803

    In addition to placing the fraud alert, the three credit bureaus will send you free copies of your credit reports upon you request. They will display only the last four digits of your Social security number on your credit reports.

    The fraud department at each creditor, bank, or utility/service with accounts that you believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Close the accounts. Follow up in writing and include copies (NOT ORIGINALS) of supporting documents. It is import to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence.

  • The fraud department at each creditor, bank, or utility/service with accounts that you believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Close the accounts. Follow up in writing and include copies (NOT ORIGINALS) of supporting documents. It is import to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence.
  • Your local police department. Ask the officer to take a report and give you a copy of the report. Sending a copy of your police report to financial institutions can speed up the process of absolving you of wrongful debts or removing inaccurate information from your credit reports. If you canʼt get a copy, at least get the number of the report.

 

Download ID Theft Affidavit here.