Been scammed? Here’s how to fix your credit record
If you are a victim of fraud or a scam it can be costly and very upsetting.
Worse still, it could impact your access to credit in the future as it can dent your credit score, said Ocean Finance.
What is identity theft and identity fraud?
Identity theft is the criminal act of stealing personal information from another person, said the financial firm. It comes in many forms, but often it’s financial data or passwords that are stolen.
It often leads to identity fraud, where stolen data is used to gain money.
Fraudsters may take out credit and buy goods in your name or use your existing bank details to obtain further credit and rack up debt for example. This can affect your credit score and your ability to take out additional or future credit.
If fraudsters use credit in your name and fail to repay it, this will show on your credit file for lenders to see.
With identity theft scams on the rise Ocean Finance has published four tips to help scam victims fix their credit report:
1. Report it to the correct credit reference agencies
Check your credit report for free using one of the main credit reference agencies in the UK – Experian, Equifax or TransUnion.
If you see anything you do not recognise, report it to the agency you used. They will then raise the issue with the relevant lender.
It can take between four to six weeks for the data to be amended on your report, so don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t change straight away.
2. Not happy with the result? Escalate it further
Make sure you speak to your lender or bank directly if you are a victim of fraud.
Whether you’re due a refund for stolen funds depends on several factors (such as if you authorised the payment, for example).
If you don’t agree with the lender’s decision, you could raise a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman. They’ll be able to look into it from an unbiased point of view, taking your circumstances into account.
3. Add a fraud alert to your credit report
If you do this, future lenders will be alerted to the fact that they need to confirm your identity before they offer credit in your name.
This will make it more difficult for fraudsters to pretend to be you. Setting up an alert won’t affect your credit score, but you may have to pay for this service, although some credit reference agencies offer free trials.
4. Add a Notice of Correction password for free
You could ask the credit reference agency to add a password to your credit report. They can write a note (known as a Notice of Correction) containing a password of your choice.
Lenders will see this note whenever someone applies for credit in your name and will ask for this to be confirmed before they lend any money. This is free to do and adds an extra layer of security.
But remember to use a unique password so fraudsters won’t be able to guess it correctly.