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Topics addressed on May 2, 2007:
Credit report stolen from mail
My credit reports were being mailed to me for my perusal by my bank. The envelope appears to have been stolen after being left outside my front door. I am concerned about my Social Security number being available to thieves. Can I have you flag my credit report? If there is any unusual activity, I would like to know.
The stolen envelope could expose you to fraud or identity theft. Because you are at increased risk, you can add a security alert to your credit history online at www.experian.com, or by calling 1 888 397 3742. That will alert creditors to possible fraud if anyone applies for credit using your name. For added peace of mind, you can purchase additional credit monitoring services at www.experian.com.
In some instances, particularly related to mortgages, lenders may be required to provide a scored report to their customers. In most cases, though it is best to get your report directly from Experian. Among other things, it is a matter of security.
When Experian delivers your report, online or through the mail, it removes your correct Social Security number and truncates the account numbers. Doing so renders the report useless to identity thieves.
The only identifying information is your name and address, which can be found in the telephone book and other public records. Because your Social Security number is removed, a mail thief cannot use the document to become an identity thief. Because there are no full account numbers, a mail thief cannot use the report for account takeover and credit fraud.
Yet, the report is still very useful to you. Partial account numbers provide enough information for you to identity the account and seek assistance from the lender if needed. You know your Social Security number, so it doesn’t need to be part of the report.
Additionally, some lender reports can be abbreviated or coded for their internal use and can be a very confusing document if you have not had training to read it. Your personal report is in an easy-to-read format with numbered entries, greatly reducing confusion and making it much easier to get help if you need it.
You can get your report free once every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. Your report is also free if you have had adverse action taken, such as having an application declined. To get a free report in that instance, follow the instructions provided with the adverse action notice the lender is required to send, or go to www.experian.com/reportaccess and follow the instructions under “Get your report.”
- The "Ask Experian" team