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Topics addressed on March 8, 2006:
Experian can help restore your credit history but not your identity
Dear Experian,If I were a victim of identity theft, would Experian restore my identity for me?
Experian cannot restore your identity, but it can help you restore your credit history. Credit reporting companies often are portrayed as the total solution to identity theft. Unfortunately, that portrayal is based on a pervasive misunderstanding of what identity theft is. Identity theft is not credit fraud, although the two are almost presented as one and the same.
Identity theft is the crime of stealing your identifying information with the intent of using it for fraudulent purposes. One of those resulting fraudulent purposes could be credit fraud. However, identity theft is also used for other crimes, such as insurance fraud, employment fraud, and benefits fraud, and many others.
Credit reporting companies have no visibility to the crime unless the stolen identity is subsequently used to apply for credit and your credit history is accessed as a result of that fraudulent application. Put more directly, credit reporting companies only become involved when the identity thief uses your identity to commit credit fraud.
Experian and the other credit reporting companies will work with you to identify fraudulent credit accounts and to restore your credit history, and will add alerts to your credit history to help prevent the use of your identity to commit credit fraud. They cannot stop other types of fraud resulting from the identity theft.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team