Real Estate Matters: Identity theft shouldn’t sink chances of purchasing a home

September 27, 2013

My 25-year-old daughter thinks she is ready to jump into the housing market. When checking her credit, she found out that she may have already bought a house and a car. (Of course, she did not; someone may have used her identity to buy it.)

Can you please give us some advice as to the best way to proceed? She is getting the documentation from one of the credit reporting bureaus, but is afraid she will miss out on the condo she was looking to purchase. I know she shouldn’t worry about losing the condo. If it is meant to be, then it is meant to be. But I hate that she has had this bad experience the first time out.

How awful for your daughter to find out her identity has been stolen.

Your daughter should immediately put a fraud alert on her credit report. She can do this through any of the major credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Once she puts a fraud alert on her credit report with one credit agency, the others automatically pick that up. That won’t stop whatever fraud has taken place, but it will help limit the damage.

Next, she needs to work with the credit reporting agencies to understand exactly what is on her credit history and how she has been affected. Then, she will have to file a police report so that she has the proper documentation to present to the credit reporting agencies.

From there on out, it’s a long slog as she tries to unwind everything that has happened. She should work with a CPA or enrolled agent to figure out if someone else has been filing taxes under her Social Security number. She should then do a search with her Social Security number to see what else pops up against it. There are investigators and attorneys she can hire who will dig in and try to unravel what real estate has been purchased that has been tied to her Social Security number. The house and car loans should turn up on her credit history.

She should gather together her proof. She’ll need to file affidavits with each of the credit reporting bureaus as part of the unwinding. Unwinding this can take up to a year, though hopefully less.

Your daughter should read as much as she can about identity theft. There are a number of Web sites with good information, including TrustedID.com , IdentityProtect ion.com , LifeLock and the Equifax Finance Blog ( www.blog.equifax.com ). (Disclosure, Ilyce is the managing editor for the Equifax Finance Blog, and her company has provided content to IdentityProtection.com ).

As far as missing out on the condo, she shouldn’t worry. Once she has the police report and has filed the affidavits with the credit reporting bureaus, she’ll have a folder to share with the loan officer. She may need to work with someone in person, at a local bank or mortgage brokerage, but identity theft shouldn’t stop her from buying her first home.

Ilyce R. Glink ’s latest book is “Buy, Close, Move In! Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate lawyer. If you have questions, you can call Glink’s radio show (800-972-8255) any Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact Glink and Tamkin through the Web site thinkglink.com.

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