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Topics addressed on September 6, 2006:
Stolen checks and your credit report
Last week some mail, including outgoing checks, was stolen from our mailbox, and my checking account number was used to cash fraudulent checks. I caught this within 24 hours and the account was closed. Future checks written by this criminal using my account will not be honored by the bank. Should I notify the credit companies about this so they won't think I'm passing bad checks?
Checking account information is not reported to Experian or the other national credit reporting companies, so there is not need to notify them about the stolen checks. There simply is no indication of the stolen checks in your credit history.
However, there are check verification companies that keep records of bad checks. Most banks report to those services, so I suggest you confirm with your bank that they cleared your account of any negative activity.
It also might be a good idea to get a copy of your credit history so that you can review it for other signs of identity theft.
Depending on what was in the mailbox, the thief might also have obtained credit account numbers and other personally identifying information that he or she could use to commit fraud or identity theft.
The thief could use existing account numbers to make fraudulent charges that would appear first in your account billing statements. For that reason, you might consider contacting your current lenders, in addition to your bank.
If the thief were able to get enough identifying information, they could attempt to open new credit accounts. If so, those inquiries would appear in your credit history. Reviewing your credit report would alert you to contact those creditors immediately. Given enough time, any newly opened fraudulent account would be added.
For peace of mind, you might add an initial security alert to your credit history. The alert will last 90 days and alerts lenders that you may be a fraud victim. They are required by federal law to respond to the alert, providing substantial protection and giving you enough time to review your report and decide if any additional action is needed.
Experian will notify the other national credit reporting companies that you have added the alert, and they will automatically do the same.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team