Can Identity Theft Affect your Credit Score

All of your prudent financial management can be wiped out in an instant in the eyes of the credit scorers as the result of criminals stealing your identity and running up huge debts in your name. You may not even know the debt exists but the credit scoring agencies do. This is a growing problem with a fast increasing number of victims.

The way that loan companies and other credit agencies decide whether or not to lend to borrowers is by undertaking a credit rating. This involves looking at your past financial history and scoring this against a set of criteria. What will be assessed is how responsibly you have managed your credit and financial dealings in the past. The better the financial management you can demonstrate the better your credit rating will be. This is very important to credit agencies that will be looking to minimize any risk associated with any loans or credit they extend. They want to be assured that they will be able to recover the monies loaned together with any charge that they levy for making the loan, either through interest or a fee. It can take years to build up a good credit history and so it’s important that you protect it from being damaged through identity theft. Once that has happened it can take a long time to rectify and leave you unable to obtain credit.

Identity theft occurs when thieves steal personal details and use these details to fraudulently obtain credit cards, loans, run up bills or steal money from the victim’s bank and/or savings accounts. You won’t even know that this has happened until you are turned down for credit sometime after this has happened. The thief will have redirected all the bills to a false address and simply not paid them. As far as the vendors are concerned, you purchased the goods and have failed to make repayments. This makes you look like a bad financial risk to other retailers and credit agencies and so they refuse to offer you any credit terms in future. In the current climate, cutting back on credit arrangements may be a good thing, but you don’t want your good financial name left in ruins.

If you want to avoid this happening to you, then take all precautions to prevent identity thieves obtaining the information that they need to perpetrate this fraud. There are many ways that thieves can obtain this information and there is a growing trend for thieves to sift through household rubbish for utility bills and credit card statements which contain all the information they need to appropriate someone else’s identity. Take care to shred materials containing personal details before putting them in your waste bins. Another common way to obtain your details is phishing. This is basically where the thief asks you for it. This is particularly prevalent on the internet where you may receive an email directing you to log on and check your bank or other details. There is a link in the email which takes you to a site that looks like your banks web-site, even the web address will look like the correct one. However, it will be a bogus site and you are simply handing your details to a crook. NEVER, ever go to web-site through an email link. If you need to log onto your bank web-site, type the correct address into your web browser.

If you think that someone has stolen your identity and is using you details to steal goods and run up debts in your name, contact your bank, credit card agency(s), debit card agency(s) and any other financial organization that you are aligned with. Explain your concerns and ask them to prevent further use of your accounts. Set up new accounts and destroy your existing cards. Be constantly vigilant and at the first sign of unusual activity in any of your financial dealings, check what has happened. Only by keeping a close eye on your accounts can you protect yourself from these thieves.