Let’s face facts. This world is full of dishonest people. Shockingly, it has been said that identity theft occurs every 2 seconds in the United States! HOPE has helped many people, of all ages, ethnicities, and professions to deal with the aftermath of identity theft over the past 10 years. In that time I have found that identity thieves are not selective – anyone can be a target! In this blog series I will give you some ways to protect yourself before identity theft happens and tips on what to do if you have already been a victim.
#1: Check Your Credit Report for Fraud! To begin, the #1 way you can protect yourself from severe identity theft is to be aware! It is very important to monitor your credit report for fraud and inaccuracies. HOPE recommends that our graduates check their credit report at least twice a year (after completing the HOPE Program) to protect themselves from credit bureau error and identity theft. In truth, checking your credit report at least twice a year is sound advice for every single American to follow.
Legally, you are entitled to one free credit report per year at www.annualcreditreport.com. (Note: if you have already gotten your free credit report within the last 12 months, there are many websites online available where you can purchase your consumer credit report for a fee.) Once you have obtained your credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus – Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian - comb through it to search for signs of identity fraud. If you find evidence of current accounts or collection accounts which you never applied to open then you may be a victim of identity fraud.
Hopefully you will not find any suspicious activity on the report; however, if you do, please feel free to contact our HOPE credit experts at 704-499-9696 or via email. We can schedule a personal credit analysis appointment with you on the spot to help you learn your options and legal rights. Then, you can decide if working with HOPE would be the best choice for you to resolve any credit issues on your report. All analysis appointments are 100% pressure free! There is absolutely no obligation for you to join HOPE because you speak with a credit expert, but at least you will be aware of all of your options.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for more preventative steps to help you avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud. There are ways to protect yourself and I can’t wait to share more of them with you!