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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

There May Be No Paperless Solution to Identity Theft

In the spirit of Earth Day, which occurs on April 22 each year, it's a good idea to focus on doing all you can to reduce waste. One way to accomplish this is to avoid producing unnecessary paper documents. After all, we do live in the Internet age, and having a bunch of paper lying around can be avoided to some degree if, for example, you sign up for electronic statements from your banks and creditors. However, there are some situations where, as environmentally unfriendly as it may be, you have no choice but to produce paper statements. For instance, it can help to keep hard copies if you’re disputing an error on your credit report — not only because you may want to keep the paperwork in your files, but because you may need to share the documentation with others to help prove your case.

Your credit report is just one hard-copy document you need
If you haven't already, request a copy of your credit report so you can review it and make sure that all of the information listed is accurate. This paper document is another hard-copy must-have, as it displays financial activity that has taken place in your name, and may reveal to you potential mistakes on your record that could be a sign of fraud.

Hand write your claim and don't skip any details
If you do notice a mistake, you will want to dispute it. To do so, you need to plead your case to both the credit bureau — either Experian®, Equifax® or TransUnion® — and to the creditor or lender that provided the disputed information to this agency in the first place. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you should make a formal request/complaint in writing and provide hard evidence in the form of documentation to prove your point.

Keep the originals safely stored away
When you're sending in your proof, send copies, not the original documents — including the credit report in question. Always keep a copy of these files for yourself in your own records so you are sure what was sent and what wasn't. As well, send your mail with "return receipt requested" so that you can verify that all parties involved got your information and you can create for yourself a timeline of when to start expecting them to take action.

Be meticulous and state the facts in the letter you send to the credit bureau — the more thorough you are the less likely the agency will be to think that your complaint is frivolous, and the more ammunition they will have to help you fight the fraud.

Learn from your mistakes and be proactive about knowing what financial activity is taking place in your name. Enrolling in a credit monitoring program is one way that you can keep a closer eye on your credit report and monitor for certain financial activity taking place in your name. This is one instance when using paper isn't wasteful, but actually may prove pivotal in helping you prove a case of identity theft.

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