If you see an account on one of your credit reports that you don’t recognize, don’t panic. There are several reasons that could explain it other than identity theft or fraud.
Why Don’t I Recognize This Account?
It could be that the creditor reports to the bureaus under an abbreviated form of their name — or by a name that is different than the one you associate with that account. For example, some retail cards may also appear as “Synchrony Financial.”
Creditors also may report to the bureaus under the name of the bank that financed your account, in which case your report would not list the retailer name or company name that appears on your card.
Or the account could’ve been acquired by another creditor, and that’s why the name is unfamiliar. In this case, you should still be able to see the original creditor listed on your credit report from when the account was opened. This often occurs with mortgages. Your mortgage may have been sold to another company, so that company’s name will appear on your report.
Additionally, if you have an account past due that went to collections, you may see that the original account was closed and a new collections account has been opened.
However, if you find that none of the above are true, it’s time to take action to protect your credit and your identity.
What Can You Do If Someone Opens an Account in Your Name?
Follow these steps:
- Call the issuer and report fraud. Ask the issuer to close the account and remove the charges.
- File a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Freeze your credit with the credit bureaus. By freezing your credit reports, you’re prohibiting potential new creditors from having access to your information. ScoreSense members can access the Credit Freeze center for information.
- File a dispute, and check your other accounts to see if there’s additional fraudulent activity. (ScoreSense members can access the Dispute Center for information.)
Sometimes thieves successfully use your information to open more than one account, so the next step is to review your other credit reports and report any additional activity. ScoreSense offers access to all three reports.
It’s also smart to file an Identity Theft Report through the Federal Trade Commission. This official report not only speeds up the process for getting the fraud removed, but it can also be a helpful tool if you decide to file a police report.
When you place a fraud alert on your credit reports, creditors will be notified that there’s a potential issue and to confirm with you, when they pull a report. With a ScoreSense membership, you’ll be notified of new inquiries and accounts opened up in your name that has been reported on your credit report.
Cybercriminals are clever about finding ways to steal your personal information and use it for their benefit. As sneaky as they can be, many are unaware of a powerful weapon you have to fight back: credit report monitoring.
Detecting criminal activity on your credit report as soon as it happens gives you the advantage of mitigating any further mess caused by identity theft. When you regularly monitor your credit reports, you can quickly dispute fraudulent activity, including accounts that you didn’t open, and protect your credit profile.
Monitor Your Credit Reports
Thieves are lurking, so stay on top of your credit reports. Monitor your information regularly. If you notice fraudulent activity, take steps to stop it from negatively impacting your financial well-being.