Blocking or Disputing Fraudulent Credit Activity
By R. Kurtz (Kurt) Holloway and Elizabeth P. Lester, project intern and contributing author
This article is the fifth article in our series on identity theft. By following the prior articles you have taken immediate, protective steps, created a plan of action and compiled the three important documents you will need going forward. Now, we will discuss the tools to help you follow through with your plan to fix your credit and restore your identity.
After the FTC complaint, Identity Theft Affidavit, and Identity Theft Report (see previous articles) are completed, you should use the Affidavit and ID Theft Report to assist you in correcting the false information on your credit report. This will involve either “blocking” information from the report completely or “disputing” specific items in your credit report.
Blocking permanently removes information caused by identity theft from your credit report along with any debts or accounts created by fraud. This is useful when a fraudulent credit account has been opened in your name. To remove such accounts:
- Send a blocking request letter, certified mail, with return receipt requested, to any one of the Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to request that items be blocked from future credit reports.
- Include proof of your identity
- Also send a copy of your ID Theft Report
- The CRA must then also send this information on to any furnishers affected by the fraud.
Disputing errors differs from blocking in that it allows you to preserve a legitimate credit account while disputing certain fraudulent activity on that account.
- Send a dispute letter to one of the CRAs, via certified mail, return receipt requested, in order to fix (remove) errors in your credit report.
- Send a copy of your credit report with the fraudulent activity highlighted.
- Include a copy of your ID Theft Report.
- Also, send proof of your identity.
The Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) can only deny a request for blocking or disputing errors in a credit report if the creditor determines that there are incorrect facts, the request has been mistakenly filed, or that the victim has benefitted from the fraud. If these instances are not the case, then the CRAs must accept the claim within 15 business days and then block or remove the false information within 4 days after that.
Next, follow-up by mailing a request, certified mail, return receipt requested, that you be notified when the erroneous account is closed or fraudulent activity removed. This allows you to clear up your credit report.
Monitor your credit reports going forward to ensure that the block or dispute has proved effective and that no further fraud has transpired. This thorough follow-through in monitoring accounts and holding the CRAs to their duty to either block or dispute information will enable you as a victim of identity theft to continue to overcome the damage of a stolen theft successfully.
A knowledgeable consumer protection law attorney can also guide you through the process, help you assert your rights and restore your financial reputation. You can contact one of us for help at 610-323-7464.