VANCOUVER -- Identity theft and fraud are a huge problem and that’s why the credit bureaus have systems in place to help protect you.

Typically, when you’ve been the victim of fraud or your identity has been compromised, it’s recommended you put an alert on your credit file.

“That gives them the opportunity to ask more questions and ask, perhaps, for more ID to make sure that the person who is applying for credit in your name is in fact you,” said Julie Kuzmic of Equifax Canada.

Mary Eby put an ID alert on her credit files after her credit card was compromised two years ago. A phone number was added to her file to call her if someone tried to take out credit in her name.

However, when the Vancouver woman recently tried to get a new phone and set up an account with Rogers at Best Buy, she ran into problems.

“I couldn’t get credit,” Eby said.

She said no one tried to call her when she tried setting up the account at Best Buy. Eby said a Best Buy employee tried unsuccessfully to get the account set up, and she left the store in frustration. She says she made repeated calls to Rogers and a week later got a call back from their credit verification department, and they said she had been cleared.

But after going back to Best Buy, Eby said her account was declined once again. "I said, 'Can't be, it was just accepted this morning.' I came home really angry and that’s when I contacted you,” Eby told McLaughlin on Your Side.

“There can be circumstances like the one that was experienced in this example where the individual does run into a few hurdles,” said Kuzmic.

But that doesn’t mean you should remove the alert.

“I would always argue in favour of protecting the individual even though that can occasionally come at the cost of convenience,” Kuzmic added.

When to put a fraud alert on your credit file:

  •  You see unauthorized inquires on your credit report
  •  Your bank accounts are fraudulently accessed
  •  Someone else tries to increase one of your credit limits
  •  Your bank tells you your information was fraudulently used to get credit or you receive notification from law enforcement that there’s been fraudulent activity in your name.

Eby now believes cancelling her compromised credit card and getting a new one from the card issuer would have been enough, rather than putting an alert on her file. But Equifax says once it’s there you shouldn’t remove it, just in case something goes wrong.

In the meantime, CTV News reached out to Rogers to inform them about the difficulties Eby was having and the problem was immediately addressed. Rogers got Eby’s account set up, sent her a new phone and even gave her extra credits for the hassles she encountered.

“I love it,” Eby said of her new phone.

We don’t know what went wrong with Eby’s application for credit but things may have gone smoother if she had dealt directly with Rogers rather than through an authorized reseller, like Best Buy. Sometimes too many fingers in the pie and different systems can complicate the approval process.

CTV News emailed Best Buy who told us that for privacy reasons they do not comment on specific cases. Best Buy said they work closely with carrier partners to review all necessary details when approving new mobile activations. 

If you place an alert on your credit file, don’t forget the phone number that you used when you requested to be contacted. Also, if you want to remove the alert, make changes or see what’s going on with your file, you can do that by contacting Equifax or TransUnion. You are also entitled to free credit reports from the agencies which can be done over the phone, via the internet or thorugh a request by mail.