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How to Restore your Credit after Identity Theft

Identity theft can be a terrible thing and, when left unnoticed or unreported, can ruin your credit and borrowing power for the long term. Though identity theft can cause major problems with your credit and drop your credit score dramatically, there are ways to work to recover from identity theft and restore your credit to what it once was. One of the first things to remember is the quicker identity theft is reported, the easier it is to remove it from your credit. Regardless of whether you reported quickly or were too embarrassed to come forward, you need to contact your credit accounts. These agencies house your personal information and the police to make a complaint and start the process to recovery.

The first step is to try and find out the extent of the damage caused, and you can start with that by ordering and printing your current credit reports from all three agencies. You then need to sit down and go over them with a fine-toothed comb and highlight that anything you don’t remember is completely incorrect or unsure. Then take the time to contact the creditors listed for those accounts in question and get as much information about the accounts or incorrect purchases made on the account. They should send you hard copies in the mail, which will become part of the dispute and evidence folder you will build. Do this with all affected accounts, creditors, and agencies, gathering as much information as possible with each one. Once you have done that, make two or three copies of all the evidence you have. You will want to file a copy of everything with your police report, plus keep your own copies when it comes time to turn everything in for dispute.

Many companies now allow you to call and report a theft on the account and will freeze the transactions while you and they investigate the situation. This can stop the debt from incurring in the first place and falling into a default status while you are trying to take care of the situation. Take advantage of this feature on any affected accounts that have them.

At the end of each of your credit reports are the instructions for how to file a dispute through that particular credit reporting agency. Make sure you read it over a couple of times and understand it completely. This can be the difference between a successful dispute and one that gets tossed in the trash. You must follow the guidelines entirely and understand there is a waiting period where the creditors investigate and respond to the items you are disputing.

Regardless of the level of identity theft that has occurred, there are ways to bounce back and preserve your credit for future borrowing and good credit standing. Your credit score will take longer to bounce back than the information on the credit report. This is because it is not updated as often. Always keep track of all your accounts and what their current status is. Also, keep all important papers in a fire-proof safe and the originals in a safe-deposit box with a bank you can trust. With a little diligence and some hard work, you can bounce back from identity theft and protect yourself against being a victim in the future while still maintaining a good credit rating and fulfilling your financial dreams.

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