Let’s be honest: when was the last time you checked your credit report? In the days where credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other sensitive items are regularly sent over the internet, identity theft is more common than ever. You can access a free credit report once a year from the major reporting agencies, but most Americans don’t take advantage of this opportunity. Even if you did check your credit report annually, a lot can happen in twelve months.
If you’re thinking about buying a home, your credit score can make or break your mortgage. But what should you do if you see something fishy on your report once you access it?
First, make sure that actual fraud is occurring, and that it’s not a debt that you have just forgotten about. If you’re positive that there is fraudulent activity, you should immediately put a fraud alert on your credit report. You can do this through any of the major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Once you do that with a particular credit agency, the others automatically pick it up. This procedure won’t stop whatever fraud has taken place, but it will help you limit the damage.
The next step is to work with the credit reporting agencies to have a good understanding of what is on your credit history and the degree of the damage. Reporting agencies take fraud very seriously, but it might take a bit of paperwork to prove the fraudulent items aren’t yours. After that, you need to file a police report in order to have the proper documentation, which you will need to present to the credit reporting agencies. It might be necessary to work with a CPA in case anyone has been filing taxes under your social security number.
In terms of purchasing a new home, you shouldn’t worry too much. Once you file the police report and all the other reports with the credit reporting authorities, you will have a folder of information to share with your loan officer. They can take the situation into account and help work with you throughout the process to secure you a good mortgage. The theft shouldn’t stop you from buying your home, although the process might take a few months longer than anticipated. If you find that you’ve had your identity stolen, not all hope is lost. If you are in the market for a home and are a victim of identity fraud, we encourage you to reach out to our recommended Mortgage Professional at HamiltonFranklinRealty.com