There are a number of ways consumers can fall victim to credit fraud. Anytime someone gains access to your personal information or identification, he or she has the opportunity to steal your identity or to use it for personal financial gain. Criminals get their hands on driver's licenses, credit cards, checkbooks, social security cards, and account numbers, and then use them to open new accounts and spend excessively.
If you're the victim of credit fraud, it's important to know your rights. You have the right to know the information in your credit report. You also have the right to know the names of companies and individuals that have received your credit report in the last 12 months. If your credit application is denied, you have the right to a free credit report if you request it within 30 days of the application.
The United States Secret Service is in charge of financial fraud investigation cases. Unfortunately, most individual cases are not usually investigated unless the amount of the fraud exceeds $65,000. Some consumer advocacy groups recommend contacting the State Attorney General's office for help with credit fraud investigation.
There are some things you can do on your own to report credit and account fraud. For stolen checks, contact the National Check Fraud Center or TeleCheck. Report fraud to one of the three national credit bureaus, including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.