How to repair your credit score after identity theft
December 20, 2022 4 min read
Identity theft can wreak havoc on your credit score. Find out how to safeguard your financial reputation and repair your credit after identity theft.
In today’s world, the ability to obtain credit from lenders or credit card companies and to open accounts with a range of providers, including mobile operators, is something we’ve come to rely on as part of our normal daily lives. It’s so commonplace that we often take it for granted. But what happens if your credit or loan application is suddenly and abruptly turned down for no apparent reason?
It could well be that you have become an unwitting victim of identity theft. If so, you won’t be alone. Identity fraud is a growing menace in the UK with reported cases up by a third in the first half of 2022 and accounting for 69% of cases reported to the National Fraud Database (NFD).
How do you find out if your creditworthiness has been affected by identity theft?
What is a credit score?
If you have been refused credit, it’s likely that the decision has been taken because your credit score is not as good as it should be. So, what is a credit score? Put simply, it’s a three-digit number that shows how reliable you are at borrowing money and repaying it in time.
Lenders use your credit score to assess whether you qualify for a loan or credit and to define the terms of the loan. The higher the number, the greater your ability to access credit and the better the terms on which it’s offered.
Your credit score is calculated using information contained in your credit report, the document used by organisations to make decisions about your creditworthiness. It assigns points according to a range of factors, including your payment history, how much of your credit card balances you’re using, how long you’ve had credit and the types of credit you have.
How to check your credit score
The three major credit reference agencies that calculate your credit score, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, have a legal obligation to provide you with a free copy of your credit report. Unfortunately, those credit reports do not include your credit score.
But you can sign up to access your credit score for free from the agencies. It may be useful to sign up to all three because each agency uses a slightly different scoring system to assign their credit score.
It’s vital that your credit report is as accurate as possible. If there’s something wrong in your report, it could affect your credit score and access to credit in the future.
Mistakes can have a damaging effect on your creditworthiness but fraudulent activity can be even more devastating. If criminals use your identity to obtain credit in your name, they can run up large unpaid debts that wreak havoc on your credit score and prevent you from accessing loans or credit or opening accounts in the future.
6 steps to repair your credit score after identity theft
How can you tell if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and what can you do to repair your creditworthiness once it happens?
1. Check your credit report
One of the ways to discover if you have become a victim of identity theft is to examine the details of your credit, borrowing and public record information contained in your credit report. If there are loans, accounts, credit cards or judgments you don’t recognise, you should take action.
2. Contact the lenders that have fraudulent charges or accounts in your name
Once you have identified loans, credit cards, bank accounts that have been fraudulently obtained using your name, you need to contact the lenders affected to inform them you have been the victim of identity theft. The credit reference agencies will also contact lenders on your behalf if fraudulent applications have been made or fraudulent credit accounts opened in order to restore your credit history to its former state.
3. Add a password in the form of Notice of Correction to your credit report
To prevent identity thieves from opening any more accounts in your name, you should consider adding a password nobody else would know or could guess. If a fraudster applies for credit in your name, the lender should request this password before opening a credit account.
4. Apply for protective registration
Consider contacting CIFAS (the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service) to apply for protective registration. Once you’ve registered and paid the £20 fee, CIFAS members will carry out extra checks to see when anyone, including you, applies for a financial service, such as a loan, using your address.
5. Update your passwords for all affected accounts
It’s important to change passwords on all affected accounts and close any unauthorised ones. Keep a record of the cancellations.
6. Consider identity theft insurance
Identity theft insurance does not cover direct financial losses you may incur as a result of identity theft, but many insurance companies will provide cover for the cost of reinstating your identity, including legal fees, phone calls and taking time off work to deal with the fraud. Most policies also provide expert advice and guidance as well as help in repairing your credit report.
How Norton can help
t’s important to understand how vital your credit score is when trying to get a loan or any other form of credit. Many of us don’t pay enough attention to our credit scores and we don’t check our credit reports as often as we should, which could leave us vulnerable to bad credit decisions based on mistaken information or the actions of fraudsters.
Norton 360 Advanced and Norton Identity Advisor Plus provide credit tools to help you keep tabs on your financial health, including monthly access to your Credit Report and Score. And with Credit Alerts, you’ll get alerted when there are any major changes to your credit report, such as a closed account, missed payment or use of more of your available credit lines. If you spot something that you suspect is fraudulent or inaccurate, you can raise a dispute against it. ¹ Norton 360 Advanced and Norton Identity Advisor Plus also provide other tools to help you monitor and respond to identity-related issues.
¹ Norton Credit Portal features can be accessed following successful registration and verification. Available to those over 18, who are residents of UK, IOM & Channel Islands. Full Terms and conditions apply.
Norton Credit Portal features are provided by TransUnion International UK Limited, which is registered in England and Wales with company number 3961870 and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under registration number 737740. Financial Conduct Authority authorisation can be checked on the Financial Services Register at www.fca.org.uk.
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Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc.