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Fraud Alert... Now What?

Every year I pay to renew my LifeLock membership. Often I think about whether or not it is worth the payment. But I do find it very helpful to have immediate notifications sent to me via text and email as it relates to my credit security. Thankfully, most of the time, the messages are regarding activities that I have initiated, like signing a DocuSign form or applying for a car loan, etc. However, recently I received an interesting notification that I wanted to share. I received the following notification on my phone this past month:

Apparently, a new application was recently submitted for a short-term loan using some of my personal information. Short-term loans are also known as payday loans, subprime loans, high-cost installment loans, cash advances, and rent-to-own loans. LifeLock monitors lending websites where a person may go to shop for these types of loans. However, these sites provide limited information.

With further research, I learned that payday loans do not always generate a credit inquiry with the three major credit bureaus. I was shocked because I assumed any loan applications required a credit check! I thought that keeping up with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) was enough to monitor my personal credit report adequately. But this is not necessarily the case when a short-term loan is detected. So I had to reach out to one of the major consumer reporting agencies (DataX, Teletrack, FactorTrust, and Microbilt/PRBC) because the short-term loan that was applied for did not generate a credit inquiry.

Soon after, I reached out to DataX and requested my consumer report to determine if I had a delinquent loan on my record. Upon my written request to DataX, they were able to send my annual consumer report and set up security freezes for me.

Based on learning all of this, here is what I did:

  1. I logged in to each credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) and activated a one-year fraud alert.

  2. I recorded a dispute via the Experian website and they, in turn, provided me with a copy of my credit report. This particular credit report did not show any short-term loan activity.

  3. I went to this link and pulled the forms to mail in and request a copy of my consumer report and request a fraud alert. (Because DataX also collects and provides consumer payment history on payday and installment loans, subprime credit cards and other specialty loans, this report should show any red flags.)

This article is not an endorsement for LifeLock because there are several companies that provide protection and monitoring. But it may make sense to review which company you are using to protect yourself and even consider utilizing more than one. You can never have too much protection in a world filled with fraudsters attempting to steal your personal information and benefit at your expense. The only downside is that there isn’t an instant online system to request a consumer report, and it must all be done by mail. Overall, I appreciate utilizing software that gives immediate notices and resources available to help navigate through these unwanted scenarios. Use good technology to fight the bad!

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