[ Consumer Program | Credit


Get PIRG's theft-of-identity fact sheets Many consumers have been the victims of identity theft, where thieves build an entire false identity using the victim's good credit history. These thieves are aided abetted by sloppy credit bureau and bank procedures, including instant credit offers, credit scoring and aggressive credit card mail solicitations.

 Send e-mail to watchdog@pirg.org with the subject line "theft1" to receive our fact sheet on "Avoiding Identity Theft." Use the subject line "theft2" to find out what to do if you are already a victim.

 Keep logs of all phone calls and dates -- who you spoke with -- first and last name --and what they promised by when.

 Complain to the credit bureau in writing, even if you've already called on the phone. In your written complaint, include copies (NOT ORIGINALS) of all relevant proof that the entry is wrong. After 30 days, contact the credit bureau again. Ask for a free copy of your report to review the correction. If the mistake has not been corrected, complain again. This time, send a copy of your letter to your Senators, Congressperson, state Attorney General and U.S. PIRG.

 Stay away from credit repair doctors. Some sites on the internet claim they can fix your credit report and even provide "kits." Don't believe it.

 It isn't true. Most accurate, but negative information, can remain at least 7 years (except in New York where shorter periods sometimes apply.).

 The bureau **is** required by law to ensure that information is complete -- so if you've paid a bill they must report that fact as well as the fact that the bill had been delinquent. But accurate negative information cannot be removed by getting a new social security number, registering as a business, or whatever the doctors order. Don't give them your money, use it to pay off your bills.

 Good books on credit and credit debt that we do recommend: "The Ultimate Credit Handbook," Gerrie Detweiler, and "Conquer Your Debt," by William Kent Brunette. Ask your bookseller for details on these excellent paperbacks by consumer advocates. Gerrie's book has a new updated edition out.



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