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Supposedly, one is able to monitor their credit rating with the three major credit bureaus to prevent/stop identity theft. However, the yearly report can only be viewed by answering questions about credit history. But how can you be expected to know your entire credit history if the very reason for the service is to monitor credit history? Hypothetically, if someone's identity is stolen and used to open several accounts, they would have to (potentially) give details of those accounts in order to discover their identity has been stolen. Is there some other way to authenticate identity to the major credit bureaus other than history?

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    I was about to scoff at this question, but then I realized that it is (weirdly) possible for children to have their identity stolen, and it wouldn't be for perhaps a decade or more before they found out, meaning the entire history would be a lie. This is a good question! My 5 year old was offered car insurance the other day, I am sure a credit card isn't unlikely. – MrChrister Jun 6 '13 at 6:29
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    In my opinion "identity theft" is a heavily loaded term that tends to transfer some responsibility to the victim. It is like someone is trying to convince you that: (1) They stole something from you. (2) It is gone. (3) You should have been more careful with it. (4) Life will suck now. Get used to it. But 'Fraud' and 'impersonation' on the part of the criminal and 'negligence', sometimes 'gross negligence' on the part of bankers and store credit providers are much better ways to describe what happens. But hey, they want you to think it is somehow your fault and not the banks & corps. – Paul Jun 15 '13 at 7:24
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I contacted the three credit bureaus, and they directed me to idtheft.gov, which led me to the FTC. If you suspect your identity is stolen, you should follow this process to authenticate yourself to the credit bureau:

  1. File a report with the FTC. You can do this by filling out an online form or calling them. Once you complete this, you'll receive an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit.

  2. File a police report. Bring this affidavit to your local police department, along with any other proof of the theft, a government photo ID, proof of your address, and the FTC's memo to law enforcement. To prove your address, you need at least two documents bearing your current address that are dated within the last two months. If the police department won't accept identity theft reports, either file a miscellaneous report or contact a different police department, sheriff, state police, or federal authorities.

  3. Unfortunately, the last step is somewhat vague. The FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and a copy of the completed police report form your "identity theft report". Transunion said that in the event of fraud, the identity theft report, your Social Security number, and "proof of address or identity as needed" are all that's necessary to authenticate yourself. They weren't clear on what other personal information they need and wouldn't specify unless I filed a fraud complaint; Equifax gave me a similar response. Experian didn't offer specifics unless I opened a fraud complaint.

In short, I think your best bet is to create an identity theft report through the FTC and your local police station and use that information to work with the credit agencies.

Side note: If identity theft is a concern for you (when is it not?), consider placing a credit freeze on your credit report with each of the credit bureaus. This allows you to control how these agencies sell and/or offer your data to third parties. Unless you lift the freeze, a third party (landlord, collection agency, etc.) shouldn't be able to request your credit history. You'll need to place a freeze with Equifax, Transunion, and Experian separately, however.

Remember that there is usually a fee to place, temporarily lift, or permanently remove a credit freeze, but some jurisdictions allow you to waive this fee is you're a documented victim of identity theft.

  • Congrats on 5K rep! :) – Chris W. Rea Jun 18 '13 at 21:20

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