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What to do if you think your identity’s been stolen

·3-min read
A girl looks in shock at her computer screen on a pink background.
A girl looks in shock at her computer screen on a pink background.

We know that there are certain (bad) financial habits that can lead to a not-so-good credit score.

But sometimes, just sometimes, your not-so-good credit score is not your fault. There can be mistakes, or even fraud. And in that case, it’s important to get on top of the errors ASAP.

My credit score has a mistake - what do I do?

According to a spokesperson for Equifax, it’s good practice to check your credit report regularly to ensure the details are correct, and there’s no unusual activity.

But, if there’s something on there that doesn’t look quite right (like a loan you never applied for, or a default that never happened), then you need to take action.

There are a few simple steps you can take:

1. Contact your credit provider

If there are errors like:

  • An incorrect default

  • Unpaid debt that you were never notified about

  • A default that you’re currently disputing

  • Created an account by mistake or as a result of identity theft…

Then, you can contact your credit provider and ask them to get the incorrect listing removed. 

If the credit provider agrees that the listing is wrong, they’ll contact the credit agency to remove it from your report. Baddabing, badaboom.

If they don’t, you can contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority to make a complaint, and get free, independent dispute resolution.

2. Contact the credit reporting agency

If there are errors like:

  • A debt listed twice

  • The amount of debt is incorrect…

Then, you can contact the credit reporting agency. They may be able to help you straight away, or advise you on the best way to get the mistake fixed.

I think my identity has been stolen and it’s impacted my credit score - what do I do?

If you reckon you’ve been the victim of identity theft, then it’s important to act immediately.

Request a copy of your credit report (from a credit reporting agency like Equifax), and then contact any credit providers you see on there that you don’t know, or you haven’t applied for credit with.

Then, contact your credit providers and inform them that the crime has occurred, and the credit was applied for illegally. Your credit provider may take immediate action to close the accounts, and try to retrieve stolen funds.

You may also want to contact the police to let them know a crime has occurred.

After that, you can contact the credit reporting agencies to let them know. They’ll also investigate the errors to remove them and repair your credit score.

CHALLENGE:

  1. Contact a credit reporting agency

  2. Receive a full credit report

  3. Check it thoroughly against your own bank statements and recollection (have you applied for that loan? Is there a double default?)

  4. If you see anything that ain’t right...contact your credit providers and get on top of it early.

The guidance and suggestions provided in Yahoo Finance's 6-Week Financial Bootcamp are of an informational nature only, and are not intended to constitute financial advice. You should make your own enquiries as to whether the 6 Week Financial Bootcamp is suitable for your own personal circumstances. Yahoo Finance does not guarantee any particular outcome arising out of your participation in the 6 Week Financial Bootcamp.

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