A B.C. woman says she waited 18 months to get her negative credit rating reversed after unknowingly falling victim to identity theft.

Allison Ruault says her nightmare started when someone took out a Chevron gas card in her name. It was only later when she went to apply for a mortgage to purchase property in May 2017 that her bank advised her she had a negative credit rating.

“It came as a complete surprise when the bank manager called and said I had this default credit card. I had absolutely no idea,” Ruault said.

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It turns out the fraudsters didn’t pay the gas card bill and Ruault had a negative credit rating indicating she owed $233.

The Williams Lake resident took immediate action. She says she called Synchrony Financial, which issued the gas card, and consumer credit reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion. She also contacted RCMP.

Shortly after, Synchrony Financial confirmed the gas card was indeed fraudulent and Ruault was not responsible for the charges. TransUnion also removed the fraudulent card from her credit file.

However, clearing the matter with Equifax wasn’t as easy.

“I just kept hitting that wall,” she said.

READ MORE: Albertan, two B.C. men arrested in ‘massive’ cases of identity theft

Ruault says for well over a year she tried to resolve the matter and have Equifax return her credit to good standing.

“This has been one of the most frustrating experiences in my life,” she said. “I felt I was a ping-pong ball getting bounced back and forth.”

Exhausted, she turned to Consumer Matters to help resolve the issue.

“In less than 24 hours after Global [News] contacted Equifax, I had a phone call from a very nice woman from Equifax who was equally as appalled as I was that this situation took so long,“ Ruault said.

When Consumer Matters reached out to Equifax and asked about the long delay to return Ruault’s credit report to good standing, a Equifax Canada spokesperson Tom Carroll told us:

“Generally, consumer credit file disputes are investigated and closed in short order. However, upon further review, we’ve determined that miscommunication issues with the card issuer and Equifax contributed the delay in resolving this case. We have corrected the issue. This matter is now closed.”

The Credit Counselling Society recommends checking your credit report once or twice a year to make sure all the information is accurate.

READ MORE: Fraud reports are up 89% in just 5 years and criminals want e-money: Edmonton police

“By checking it on a regular basis once or twice a year that should be sufficient to make sure you are not the victim of fraud,” Credit Counselling Society president and CEO Scott Hannah said.

Hannah said becoming a victim of fraud can potentially have serious consequences if it’s not caught immediately.

“It’s going to have a negative impact on their credit rating and credit score to the point where someone may find it difficult to apply and receive additional credit in the future until it has been resolved. Typically, the longer it goes unnoticed the more damaging it is.”

Information on how to check your credit score is available here.

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