Traveling? Protect Your Identity and Credit

credit theft identity theft

 3 tips to ensure you safeguard your personal assets and business credit worthiness.

 

 Credit plays an important role to many business owners in their daily operations.  Many vendors actually pull personal and business credit as a way of qualifying business owners’ application to work with them. Banks pull credit not only for loan purposes but also to open personal and business checking/saving accounts.

Recently, a client of mine that travels between Columbia and the U.S. for business was made aware that her checking account was closed while she was away.     Due to unforeseen circumstances, she had to put her business on hold as she was unable to collect funds from clients or pay vendors.  The most challenging part was the unknown steps she needed to take to resolve this problem.  In fact, credit is still a mystery even to lending institutions’ as they were unable to assist her.

After speaking to me, Aimee found out what happened. She was a victim of fraud and the credit bureau called ChexSystems had her file reporting “uncollectable savings account abuse”.

What is ChexSytems?

In many instances checking and savings account activity does not appear on your credit report, most financial institutions report misconduct to a database called ChexSystems. Types of activity that may be reported  to ChexSystems include:

  • Having your account closed involuntarily by the financial institution.
  • Bouncing checks. Financial institutions will typically only report people who fail to pay the non-sufficient fund fees and/or bounce checks habitually, not those that do it once by mistake.
  • Overdrawing your account. Being in the red a day or two before depositing funds will not generally get you reported to ChexSystems, but if you fail to add money after a reasonable period of time or you repeatedly overdraw, the chances are good that you will be reported.
  • Committing an act of fraud, such as altering checks or providing false information about your identity.
  • Applying for a checking account, ordering checks, or reporting a check or debit card lost or stolen. Most of the time, these activities are perfectly legitimate and will not be held against you, but they can be a sign of fraudulent activity, which is why financial institutions may report them to ChexSystems.

This caused the bank  to close her checking account and other lenders not accept her as a client. Identity theft is a very big issue in the United States.

So if you travel often make sure to take these three steps to protect your identity and credit:

1. Understand your current position:  Order your credit report before you start to travel through annualcreditreport.com.

2. Place a “fraud alert” on your credit report with the three main bureaus.  Everything stems from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Proof of identity will be requested by the credit bureaus.  With a fraud alert, businesses must verify your identity before credit is issued.  Include your current contact information to the bureaus.

  • Equifax 1?800?525?6285
  • Experian 1?888?397?3742
  • TransUnion 1?800?680?7289

 

3.  Mark your calendar.  The initial fraud alert stays on your report for 90 days.  You can continue to renew it.

Aimee’s issue has been resolved and her operations resume.  Fortunately her story had a happy ending, but it did cost her thousands of dollars along with much stress and aggravation.

Travel with peace of mind, protect yourself and your company and place a fraud alert on your credit report.

Next- Know Your Credit Rights- 5 important rights

 

 

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About the author

Elizabeth Karwowski

Elizabeth Karwowski founded Get Credit Healthy, Inc., a consumer advocate organization to help individuals get back on the right path to credit health. She has obtained her FICO & Fair Credit Reporting Act certification.  As a recognized credit expert, Elizabeth has been featured on NBC and Fox News, published in Scotsman’s Guide, Today’s Chicago Women and other print media. Over time, she has helped countless individuals restore their credit.   
She is an active SCORE counselor and a board member for the City of Miami Beach Success University.   Elizabeth Karwowski was formerly the President and CEO of Trust One Mortgage Corporation.  After Graduating from Northern Illinois University with honors, Elizabeth worked for Ernst & Young LLC and RSM McGladrey as part of the consulting team.

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