The best thing you can do to ensure that you are not the victim of identity theft and that there are no bogus default judgments filed against you by debt collection lawyers in the court system is to check your credit report. Now is a great time to get your credit report, because it will help you start the coming year by cleaning your financial slate.
Anyone with a television or a radio knows how to get a credit report, because the advertisers want you to believe it is free and memorize their jingle. Free credit reports do not pay for expensive TV commercials and radio spots. Charging you an annual subscription and other fees is how they “get ya” to help them make a profit. Besides, a report that merges the big three credit reporting agencies into one, mish-mashed report can be difficult to decipher who is reporting what.
Instead, I advocate people order every 12 months their annual credit report from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp, which is a web site set up by Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union to comply with federal law that requires them to provide every consumer with a free credit report once per year. Here is a link to the Federal Trade Commission that has more information about the annual free report: http://www.ftc.gov/freereports. At this site, you can order one credit report at a time from each of the big three agencies. For your privacy and protection, you must answer correctly some questions, such as your monthly mortgage payment, the name of the lender on your home mortgage, or how much was the original loan balance. The system allows you to print or save the report to your hard drive. If you save it, then you may print or view it on screen as many times as you like. If you exit without printing or saving the report, then the system will not let you view it for another 12 months for free.
To find out if there are any debt collection lawsuit default judgments against you, view the area on the report that shows public records. Public records are court judgments, tax lien filings, and bankruptcy filings. Some credit reports also show certain debt collections in this area. There are other ways to see if a court has any judgments or cases against you, which is the subject of a legal guide I have on www.Avvo.com and another blog posting.
If the report contains any judgments, accounts, or inquiries by companies with whom you never had a credit relationship nor have authorized them to review your credit reports for an application for credit, employment, or insurance, then you may be the victim of identity theft or an attempt to steal your personal information and illegally use your credit. I prepared for www.Avvo.com a legal guide on how to protect yourself from identity theft, which is at this link: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/steps-after-learning-you-are-a-victim-of-identity-theft
My other web site has a free sample letter that you can send by Certified Mail to companies that you do not recognize on your credit report under the inquires section. See sample letter 4.1 at: http://stopcollectionharassment.com/sample_letters.htm.
Happy New Year,