Addressing Credit Problems
Being a crime victim does not excuse you from paying debts you incurred before or as a result of the crime. One of the unfortunate effects of fraud is that it could hurt your credit rating. However, you have some options that may help.
First, you may wish to consult with the law enforcement victim/witness coordinator for guidance and assistance before contacting a consumer counseling service. Such services typically provide:
Although some consumer counseling services charge high fees, many others are operated by nonprofit organizations and charge little or nothing. To find a nonprofit credit counseling service near you, contact the Better Business Bureau or a local credit reporting agency for a referral. (The Consumer Credit Counseling Service can be reached at (800) 388-CCCS. For addresses of affiliate offices near you, check your local phone directory.) Also, some universities and military bases provide those services to their students and personnel.
Second, send credit reporting agencies a written statement of your victimization for inclusion in your credit record. While explanations of payment difficulties do not result in the removal of negative credit ratings, they do provide creditors with information for future credit decisions. (Make sure to file your statement with both local and national credit reporting agencies, since they do not always share files.)
Third, if you choose not to work with a credit counseling service, contact your creditors directly to advise them of any changes in your ability to pay. Do not neglect collection notices or avoid contact with creditors. Often, creditors will work with you to reduce or modify payments.
Here is a list of the largest national credit reporting agencies. Each provides copies of credit reports and maintains a credit card fraud unit to help consumers avoid credit card fraud.
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Fraud Assistance Unit (800) 525-6285
Internet address: http://www.equifax.com
Experian (formerly TRW, Inc.)
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013
Consumer Fraud Assistance Unit (800) 682-7654
Internet address: http://www.experian.com
Trans Union Corporation
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
Fraud Assistance Unit (800) 680-7289
Internet address: http://www.tuc.com
To find local or state credit reporting agencies, refer to your local phone directory or Better Business Bureau.
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