Personal Credit Reports Require Frequent Review
Today, I received another call from a person who was interested in determining if my investigations firm could assist her in looking into her troublesome credit report. According to her, she has never bought a home – nor ever used credit cards but on her credit report a home mortgage is shown and so are numerous credit cards. This is the first time she has looked at her credit history. I advised her to get a copy of all 3 credit bureau reports and to closely examine them for errors.
Obviously, this issue could be the result of data entry error, another person with similar identification information or a case of identity theft. I suggested she may want to contact an attorney or law enforcement officials after looking at all 3 credit reports.
While my firm could certainly have charged her to assist her and review her credit report; we operate on an ethical platform. This person was fully capable of examining her own credit documents. After giving her a few suggestions on what to do next, she hung up.
Thinking about this situation, I called 10 friends. I asked each one of them the exact same question: “When is the last time you looked at your own credit report?” Every one said that it had been at least 5 years and two said they had never looked at their own credit report. This is great news to an identity thief —- the less a person monitors a credit report, the longer time it takes for problems to be detected.
Instead of the hassle and expense of hiring investigators and attorneys to resolve problems, a little pro-active up front effort might save you a wide range of credit report problems later – and in the end, might save you a lot of money.
- Take advantage of your annual free credit report (each year you may request one credit report from each of the three (3) major credit reporting bureaus, free of charge).
- Learn how to read a credit report (dozens of books available on web sites like E-Bay and Amazon)
- If your credit report seems to be a real mess, contact an investigations firm that has a forensic accountant or similar person on staff to analyze your report for you
- Learn how to file a complaint about erroneous information and repair your report
Credit report problems, especially those resulting from identity theft often take months to resolve. If you do have a problem, you will need to resolve yourself to seeing the resolution through until the end. If your situation is very complex, an attorney, investigations firm with financial experience may be needed.
About the Author
Tom Santaguida is the owner and Director of Dirigo Investigations and Security, LC. A licensed professional investigator in Maine and New Hampshire, after a 20 year career in law enforcement he started his Maine based investigations firm, which provides investigations services nationally and internationally. He is a member of the Maine Licensed Private Investigator’s Association and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Tom may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org