Credit Scams to Avoid
by Michelle Black, CreditWriter.com
Poor credit can lead to a lot of painful and embarrassing moments. If you are currently struggling with credit problems then you already know just how miserable bad credit can be. Credit problems can make it difficult to secure a place to live, to finance a vehicle, to qualify for a credit card or loan, and even to do something as simple as opening a new utility account without a sizable deposit.
Unfortunately, scammers are very aware that bad credit makes life hard too. They know that many consumers are absolutely desperate to change their credit situations and they eagerly try to prey upon this desperation. Thankfully, you can help to protect yourself from these con artists by learning a little more about some of the most common credit scams you need to avoid.
The New Credit Identity Scam
One of the most popular credit scams involves the practice of paying someone to create a “new” credit identity for you. On the surface, it is understandable why the idea of a fresh start might sound attractive to you. Unfortunately, what a scammer will not tell you is that by using a “new” identity you could actually be guilty of committing a number of different crimes.
The new credit identity scam, also known as file segregation, typically involves a few steps. First a fraudulent company, likely pretending to be a credit repair outfit, will offer to sell you a new credit identity number (typically an EIN number or a CPN number) which you can use in place of your social security number on future credit applications. By using this alternative number you will be creating a separate or segregated credit file with each of the credit bureaus which will supposedly replace your old, damaged credit files. Yet not only is this file segregation scheme typically illegal, it can also be expensive and ineffective.
Fees for new credit identity services often run into the thousands of dollars, although the scammer will probably try to argue that the fee is a small price to pay for an instant fix to all of your credit woes. Be careful not to be fooled by such tactics.
Additionally, when you use an EIN or CPN number in place of your social security number on a credit application you are likely guilty of bank fraud. If you submitted a fraudulent application over the phone, online, or via mail then you might be guilty of wire fraud or mail fraud as well. Furthermore, that EIN or CPN number you thought you were purchasing could actually be a real social security number which has been stolen from someone else. (Are you really surprised that your friendly neighborhood scammer might be an identity thief as well?) If you use someone else’s social security number on a credit application then you might just be guilty of committing identity theft yourself.
The Tradeline Rental Scam
Piggybacking is a term which refers to the process of being added to someone else’s existing credit card account as an authorized user. Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account can sometimes be a wise part of your overall credit improvement strategy. If you are added onto an older, well managed credit card account it certainly has the potential to help improve your credit scores when (and if) that positive account shows up on your credit reports. However, the authorized user strategy is only really safe and effective when done with someone whom you know personally.
Tradeline renting describes the process of paying to piggyback on a stranger’s credit card account in an attempt to trick the credit scoring system. Typically you pay a middle man (most likely a sizable fee) who will then act as an agent to connect you with someone who is willing to add you onto their account as an authorized user. The bad news if you fall for the tradeline renting scam is that you could be guilty of bank fraud and a number of other associated crimes as well. To add insult to injury, newer versions of FICO’s credit scoring models have been designed with logic that helps to detect fraudulent tradeline renting. So, not only can tradeline renting be expensive and illegal, there is a chance that it might not even work.
Legitimate Credit Help
Although you should be careful not to fall for credit scams, the good news is that there are legitimate credit repair professionals who may be able to help you with your credit problems. Remember, a trustworthy credit repair company will never ask you to change your identity, rent a tradeline from a stranger, or to pay upfront fees for services.
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