What is the difference between identity theft and identity errors

The difference between identity theft and identity errors

A popular credit topic these days is identity theft, and it is definitely a problem. Many people suffer when their personal information is stolen and credit is opened in their name. What so many don’t realize is that identity errors can be just as detrimental and probably more common. Identity theft is when someone steals your identity for a financial gain. Identity errors are when things show up on your credit report that don’t otherwise belong to you.


 Five common ways IDentity theft can happen

  • Mail theft – Most mailboxes in newer neighborhoods are under lock and key. There are still a lot of older mailboxes that are easy targets for identity thieves. 
  • Dumpster diving – A dirty job but some thieves will do it. Rummage through somebody else’s garbage in order to hit identity pay dirt.
  • Pretexting – Use personal info to play con game. The personal info gains trust and makes the thieves seem legit.
  • Shoulder surfing – Thieves getting a look over a shoulder to steal personal info from a laptop screen, cell phone screen, or a pin at the grocery store.
  • Phishing – A seemingly harmless email from a common bank or company asking for a log in. When the log in linked is clicked and the credentials entered, the thieves now have the information they need to drain a bank account or run up a credit card.

Ways to help prevent Identity theft

  • If you have an ‘old’ style mailbox that is not locked, have sensitive info sent to a PO Box. This could include bank statements,  credit card statements, and other bills containing sensitive and personal information. Use e-billing when possible and opt out of mailed statements.
  • Buy a cross-cut shredder and use it on all statements and other documents containing sensitive personal information.
  • Do not trust anybody that calls you or emails you directly. Never give personal info over the phone if someone calls you that you were not expecting. Ask for a return phone number and call them back. Most thieves hide their phone numbers.
  • When entering a pin or private info at the grocery store or gas station, cover it with your hand. If you use your laptop in public, consider getting a privacy screen to lay over your laptop screen.
  • Most people use the credit card machine at the gas pump. Check to see if there is anything out of place like a broken or cut sticker around the edge or if something is loose. Thieves commonly use skimmers to steal credit card information at the gas pumps.
  • Turn on two step verification whenever possible with your most sensitive accounts such as Facebook and email. Two step verification will usually have a verification code that is sent in addition to your password.
  • Use a strong ID monitoring site such as IdentityIQ or Lifelock.

How to clean up ID theft from your credit report

  • If you feel your ID has truly been stolen, you need to file a police report and ask for an identity theft packet.
  • This police report is filed with the FTC and the credit bureaus to get the items removed. It is a long process with a few steps involved. Part of our credit coaching process is to help our clients with this process when this happens.

How identity errors can happen

  • Same last name same zip code. If you have a common last name, it is possible to see items that do not belong to you from someone with a similar last name from your zip code or a zip code you have lived at in the past.
  • At least four letters out of a name match and at least 7 out of the 9 social security numbers match you are likely to see items on your report that do not belong to you. This happened with a client of mine named Roberto whose file merged with somebody with the first name of Robert. They only had one number different in their social security number. 

How can negative credit items be corrected?

Our investigation and verification process can help correct and remove these kind of negative and erroneous items. Schedule a call today to review your credit file for potential erroneous information.

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