I found a CC that I had nothing to do with opening on my credit report. I called the issuing company and told them as much and they opened a dispute with the 3 agencies. Also, in an effort to increase my score I've read that sometimes you can get a late payment removed from your report. I talked to the issuing bank and they said that since it was less then 30 days late that they'll issue a dispute to the agencies. Do I need to do anything else for this? I see that the CC I didn't open is disputed on my report, that wasn't me, I haven't contacted any of the agencies. Do the agencies need me to file a dispute or is it enough that the issuing companies filed the dispute themselves?
The Federal Trade Commission has a page on Disputing Errors on Credit Reports. According to them, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) both the credit reporting agency and the information provider (credit card company) are responsible for correcting the error on your credit report. They recommend contacting both in writing, and even have sample letters that you can use. Specifically, when you contact the credit reporting agency in writing, they are required to investigate and get back to you.
Since you've already seen that the accounts are marked as disputed on your credit report, perhaps contacting the credit reporting agencies is unnecessary. But it wouldn't hurt. At the very least, it might be worth a phone call to the credit reporting agencies to ask them if they need a letter from you.
Something else you could try is the FTC's recently updated identitytheft.gov website. This allows you to report the identity theft and offers you information on the recommended steps you should take. I don't know what exactly it does, but I see that "open a fraudulent credit card account" is one of the choices for reporting. Identitytheft.gov also has a step-by-step identity theft recovery guide.
Was the credit card opened in your name, or is it someone else's card and erroneously shows on your account?
If it's someone else's account, sit tight and let the bureaus sort it out.
If it's in your name, you need to file a police report immediately. This will constitute a formal "identity theft report" in the eyes of the CFPB. You must submit THIS to the credit bureaus, which will allow them to formally place a block on your consumer report and mitigate further damage.
Let me be clear: the existing "dispute" may remove this card from your report, but will not stop someone from opening additional lines of credit! If you are legitimately the victim of identity theft, a proper dispute begins with a police report. Without that, you don't have a case.
At any rate, it's much easier to prevent the damage now than to try to convince everyone of your innocence when there's a $200,000 mortgage taken out in your name later.
Speaking from personal experience regarding ID theft, please note that if someone was able to fraudulently open a line of credit under your name, they may have enough information about you to do significantly more damage than just having a line of credit. They may also, for example:
- Be able to access and view your credit file from the credit reporting agencies.
- Open up other types of loans (e.g. auto, home).
- Access your personal mobile phone account and activate additional lines or purchase new devices.
- Access your Social Security statements and income tax filings.
- Impersonate you to gain access to your bank accounts if such accounts appear on your credit file.
Not all of these will happen, but any one of these could happen depending on the extent of information they are able to get about you. If they obtain a copy of your credit file they will see additional details such as existing (legitimate) lines of credit, previous addresses, and activities you may have taken to prevent further hard inquiries such as fraud alerts.
My recommendation is to do the following in this approximate order:
- Place a fraud alert on all of your credit files. This lasts 90 days and can be extended. The alert does not prevent hard inquiries but alerts prospective creditors that the inquiry requires more strict verification of identity.
- File a police report. This is the key document you need as soon as possible, because it is a legal document in which you attest that you have been the victim of identity theft.
- Place a credit freeze on all three of your files. The fee will be waived if a police report is provided (sometimes, a case number is all the reporting agencies or creditors need).
- Notify all creditors, both fraudulent and legitimate, that appear on your credit file, that your identity has been stolen. If an account was opened fraudulently, you should remind the creditor to remove the hard inquiry as well as dismiss any liability, not just close the account. If it is your account, request that a PIN or password is set so that in order to change any account information (phone number, address, password) either in writing or over the phone, that they need to ask for this additional information and not just for your SSN, DOB, and name. This is to protect your legitimate accounts from being stolen.
- Ask for details about fraudulently opened accounts. Ask if the application was made in person or by mail or online. If online, ask for the email address that was used. Ask if the information provided was correct--what did the identity thief know about you? If fraudulent purchases were made, where and when were they made?
- Check various online websites that offer you access to your credit file in exchange for targeted advertising from various creditors (e.g., CreditKarma). Make sure that no one has created an account to gain access to your credit file. These websites can pull your report even if you place a security freeze, so if you attempt to register and you are told that your file has already been registered, notify the site that your identity was stolen.
- Contact the Social Security Administration and inform them that your identity has been stolen, if you believe the thief has your SSN.
- File an ID Theft Affidavit with the FTC.
- Put all hard copies of your documentation in one place. You will receive a lot of correspondence from creditors and credit reporting agencies. Keep hard copies of your driver's license and a recent utility bill in your paperwork. The repair process will take time. When you call someone, note when you called and what was addressed during the call. Ask for the caller's name.
- Stay on top of your ID theft case. Keep the credit freeze in place until everything is resolved to your satisfaction. Do not apply for new credit in the meantime unless it is absolutely necessary.
Believe me, this is not to be taken lightly. An ID thief can do an incredible amount of damage in a remarkably short amount of time, leaving creditors with a lot of unpaid debt and you to clean up the mess. It takes vigilance and persistence to resolve everything, and these thieves have ways of gaining access to your personal information that you might never have thought about before, so you need to anticipate and be proactive in cutting them off. Good luck.