US20100174638A1 - Report existence monitoring - Google Patents

Report existence monitoring Download PDF

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US20100174638A1
US20100174638A1 US12349455 US34945509A US20100174638A1 US 20100174638 A1 US20100174638 A1 US 20100174638A1 US 12349455 US12349455 US 12349455 US 34945509 A US34945509 A US 34945509A US 20100174638 A1 US20100174638 A1 US 20100174638A1
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credit
report
consumer
monitoring
system
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US12349455
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Tod DeBie
Michael Burger
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ConsumerInfo com
CONSUMERINFO COM Inc
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ConsumerInfo com
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q40/00Finance; Insurance; Tax strategies; Processing of corporate or income taxes
    • G06Q40/02Banking, e.g. interest calculation, credit approval, mortgages, home banking or on-line banking
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q40/00Finance; Insurance; Tax strategies; Processing of corporate or income taxes
    • G06Q40/02Banking, e.g. interest calculation, credit approval, mortgages, home banking or on-line banking
    • G06Q40/025Credit processing or loan processing, e.g. risk analysis for mortgages

Abstract

Certain consumers may not have a credit report and, thus, may not be able to enroll in a credit monitoring service. A credit report monitoring system requests a credit report of consumers that are attempting to enroll in a credit monitoring service. If no credit report is located for the consumer, a credit report of the consumer is automatically periodically requested by the system. When a credit report is later located, the consumer may continue with enrollment in a credit report monitoring service. In this way, the consumer is alerted of the (possibly fraudulent) creation of a credit report and is quickly able to enroll in a credit monitoring service.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    This invention relates to systems and methods for detecting the existence of a credit report.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    Identity theft is the act of acquiring a consumer's personal information, such as an account number, driver's license, health insurance card, or Social Security number, and using the information to commit fraud or theft. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation. In 2007, the Federal Trade Commission estimated that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, clone an ATM or debit card and make electronic withdrawals, take out major loans and not pay off the lender, and establish a telephone account, as well as engage in a number of other fraudulent activities. A consumer may not find out about the identity theft until a debt collector contacts the consumer.
  • [0005]
    Consumers may enroll in credit monitoring services to protect their identities from theft. Credit monitoring services periodically check the credit report of the enrolled consumer and provide the enrolled consumer with updated credit reports so that the consumer may detect activities that appear fraudulent. However, enrollment in those services requires the existence of a credit report. If a credit report does not exist for a consumer, for example the elderly or expatriates, then the consumer cannot enroll in the service. Also, if the report is unavailable at the time enrollment is attempted, because of a system glitch or a data error, for example, then a consumer would also be refused enrollment. Thus, these consumers would be left without the protection of a credit monitoring service, which may result in a theft of their identity not being immediately noticed.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0006]
    The systems, methods, and devices of the invention each have several aspects, no single one of which is solely responsible for its desirable attributes. Without limiting the scope of the invention, certain features will now be discussed briefly.
  • [0007]
    In one embodiment, a computerized method of enrolling a consumer in a credit monitoring service, the credit monitoring service providing periodic notifications to enrolled consumers regarding changes to their respective credit reports, comprises (a) providing a user interface to a consumer, (b) receiving enrollment information from the consumer via the user interface, the enrollment information comprising one or more of: a name, a social security number, and an address of the consumer, (c) transmitting a credit report request to a credit bureau, the credit report request comprising at least some of the enrollment information, (d) receiving an indication that the credit bureau did not locate a credit report of the consumer, (e) notifying the consumer that a credit report was not located by the credit bureau, (f) after a predetermined time, requesting a credit report of the consumer from the credit bureau, and, if a credit report is not returned in response to the request, returning to step (f), or, if a credit report is returned in response to the request, continuing enrollment of the consumer in the credit monitoring service.
  • [0008]
    In one embodiment, a computerized method of enrolling a consumer in a service that requires the existence of a credit report comprises receiving an indication from one or more credit bureaus that a credit report for the consumer is not available, periodically requesting a credit report of the consumer from the one or more credit bureaus, and, if a credit report of the consumer is located, continuing enrollment of the consumer in the service.
  • [0009]
    In one embodiment, a computerized method of monitoring the existence of a credit report for a consumer comprises requesting a credit report for a consumer from one or more credit bureaus, receiving an indication from the one or more credit bureaus that a credit report for the consumer is not available, and, after a predetermined time period, requesting a credit report for the consumer from the one or more credit bureaus, receiving an indication from the one or more credit bureaus that a credit report for the consumer is not available, and repeating the request of a credit report for the consumer until a credit report for the consumer is available.
  • [0010]
    In one embodiment, a system for enrolling a consumer in a credit monitoring service comprises an enrollment module configured to receive enrollment information for a consumer and to enroll the consumer in a credit monitoring service and a report existence module configured to request a credit report of the consumer from one or more credit bureaus wherein in response to receiving an indication that no credit report is available for the consumer, the report existence module is configured to periodically re-request a credit report of the consumer and, in response to receiving an indication that a credit report is available for the consumer, continuing enrollment of the consumer in the credit monitoring service.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0011]
    FIG. 1A is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a credit bureau in communication with one or more consumer computing devices via a network.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 1B is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a report existence system in communication with a consumer and a credit bureau via a network.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 1C is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a report existence system in communication with a consumer and a plurality of credit bureaus.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram of one embodiment of a credit report monitoring system.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating one embodiment of a method of enrolling a consumer in a credit report monitoring service.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating another embodiment of a method of enrolling a consumer in a credit report monitoring service.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating one embodiment of a method of monitoring the existence of a credit report for a consumer.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • [0018]
    Embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying figures, wherein like numerals refer to like elements throughout. The terminology used in the description presented herein is not intended to be interpreted in any limited or restrictive manner, simply because it is being utilized in conjunction with a detailed description of certain specific embodiments of the invention. Furthermore, embodiments of the invention may include several novel features, no single one of which is solely responsible for its desirable attributes or which is essential to practicing the inventions herein described.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 1A is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a credit bureau 140 in communication with one or more consumer computing devices 130A, 130B, 130C (also referred to herein as simply the “consumer 130A, 130B, 130C” or the “consumers 130A, 130B, 130C”), via a network 160. Computing devices, as used herein, may include desktop computers, laptops, servers, personal digital assistants, cellular phones, and/or any other computing device. The network 160 may comprise one or more wired or wireless networks or both, such as any combination of one or more LANs, WANs, MANs, or the Internet.
  • [0020]
    In the embodiment of FIG. 1A, a credit bureau 140 includes a credit report monitoring system 170. The credit bureau 140, or more specifically, the credit monitoring system 170, receives enrollment information from a consumer 130A, 130B, or 130C, who wishes to enroll in a credit report monitoring service. As used herein, enrollment information comprises any information that may be used to establish the identity and/or to obtain a credit report of a consumer 130A, 130B, 130C, and may include, for example, name, previous names, dates of birth, address, previous addresses, Social Security number, account numbers, credit card numbers, and/or driver's license number.
  • [0021]
    In general, a credit monitoring service (e.g., provided by the credit report monitoring system 170) allows a consumer, once enrolled in the monitoring service, to access an updated version of their credit report at any time. Thus, a consumer 130A, 130B, 130C can review their credit score and credit-related activities that are reported on a credit report as frequently as they would like, such as daily, weekly, monthly, etc. In addition, credit monitoring services may provide notifications, such as messages on a web based user interface, emails, and/or text messages, to the enrolled consumer when there are changes to the consumer's credit report, or possibly only when there are certain types of changes to the consumer's credit report. Thus, enrolled consumer may be alerted of fraudulent use of their identity promptly after the fraudulent use occurs, so that the fraudulent use may be immediately dealt with and further fraudulent uses may be limited or prevented. Credit monitoring services may be especially beneficial to consumers that have had their personal information lost or stolen as part of a data breach, which typically involves the loss or theft of the personal data of hundreds or thousands of consumers.
  • [0022]
    However, in order to enroll in a credit monitoring service (e.g., provided by the credit report monitoring system 170), the consumer 130A, 130B, 130C often must have a credit report, and there are several reasons why the credit report may not be available for a consumer. These reasons generally fall into two categories: 1) the consumer does not have a credit report, which includes those consumers that have never had a credit report and those consumers that have previously had a credit report but currently do not have a credit report, due to extended periods of no activity in their credit files, such as the elderly and expatriates, for example, and 2) the credit report is not currently available, such as due to a system glitch or a data error in a credit bureau 140, for example.
  • [0023]
    A report existence system 150 may periodically check for the existence of a credit report for a consumer 130A, 130B, 130C. Upon finding a credit report for a consumer 130A, 130B, 130C, the report existence system 150 may provide the report to the credit report monitoring system 170 and/or the consumer 130A, 130B, 130C. The credit report monitoring system 170 may complete the enrollment of the consumer 130A, 130B, 130C after receiving the credit report. The report existence system 150 may also notify the consumer 130A, 130B, 130C when no credit report is found.
  • [0024]
    For example, a consumer named Bill Jones has served abroad in the military for 8 years before returning to the U.S. Upon his return, Bill does not have a credit report on record at any of the credit bureaus. Bill typically donates to a charity for fallen soldiers. Unfortunately, the charity to which Bill donates had a data breach in which personal information of the charity's donors were stolen. Bill, after being advised of the data breach, wishes to enroll in a credit monitoring service. However, because Bill does not have a credit report, he is not qualified to enroll in a credit monitoring service. Bill can choose to periodically attempt to enroll in a credit monitoring service, in an attempt to determine if his personal information has been used to open a new credit account, for example, which would result in creation of a credit report for Bill. However, the manual re-application for a credit monitoring service may be tedious and will likely not be performed frequently. Thus, Bill may not be aware of fraudulent use of his personal information until weeks, months, or years after the fraudulent use occurs. Thus, Bill needs some way to keep apprised of fraudulent use of his personal information (other than enrolling in a credit monitoring service for which he is currently not eligible for). As discussed in further detail below a report existence system 150 advantageously periodically determines if a credit report has been created for a consumer and, in response to detecting a credit report for a consumer that previously did not have a credit report, alerts the consumer of the credit report creation and may provide the consumer with an opportunity to complete enrollment in a credit monitoring service. With such a report existence monitoring service, Bill does not need to repeatedly attempt to enroll in the credit monitoring service in order to determine if a credit report using his personal information has been created. Rather, the report existence system 150 automatically detects when a credit report has been create for Bill and notifies him of such event.
  • Illustrative Embodiments
  • [0025]
    In the embodiment of FIG. 1A, a consumer 130A represents an exemplary victim of a data breach that wishes to enroll in a credit monitoring service, (e.g., provided by the credit report monitoring system 170), a consumer 130B represents an exemplary person who knows that they do not have a credit report, such as an elderly person or an expatriate, and a consumer 130C represents a person that has lost one or more documents that contains personally identifying information, such as a driver's license, credit card, Social Security card, or a wallet or a purse that contains such personally identifying information. Additionally, other consumers that are interested in enrolling in a credit monitoring service may have been a victim of identity theft in the past or just have a great deal of concern for their credit report.
  • [0026]
    In one embodiment, the credit bureau 140 is an entity that collects information from various sources and provides consumer credit information on individual consumers. The credit bureau 140 may be Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, any agency thereof, or any other entity that provides credit reports. As used herein, credit report or credit file is defined to include any credit-related data, including data from credit files, credit reports, and any other credit-related information. For ease of description, certain exemplary systems and methods are described herein with reference to credit reports. These references to a credit report should be interpreted to include embodiments directed to any subset of credit data in a credit file or a credit report, soft inquiry data, or any additional credit data that may not be included in a credit report.
  • [0027]
    The credit bureau 140 may comprise one or more computing devices. Additionally, the credit bureau 140 may be configured to request and/or collect information, such as credit data and/or consumer information, from various sources, including other credit bureaus, and then store the information on one or more computer readable medium. The credit bureau 140 may be configured to respond to requests and/or queries from a consumer 130 or credit report monitoring system 170, and may also be configured to perform other operations, such as enrolling a consumer in a credit report monitoring service (e.g., provided by the credit report monitoring system 170).
  • [0028]
    The credit bureau 140 may be configured to request and/or receive enrollment information from one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C. In one embodiment, the credit bureau 140 requests the enrollment information via a user interface that is accessible over a network, and the consumer provides the enrollment information on the web user interface. In other embodiments, the one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C may provide the enrollment information through communication with an employee of credit monitoring service, such as through normal mail or phone conversation, for example, and the employee may then access a user interface to provide the information to the credit bureau 140.
  • [0029]
    In some embodiments, the credit bureau 140 comprises a credit report monitoring system 170. The credit report monitoring system 170 may include one or more computing devices. The credit report monitoring system 170 may receive enrollment information from a consumer 130A, 130B, 130C via the credit bureau 140, or via direct communication between the one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C using a web interface provided by the credit report monitoring system 170, the telephone, or direct communication with an employee of the credit report monitoring service. In other embodiments, the information may be provided through a storage device, such as an optical disk a disk drive, a jump drive, and/or a hard drive. Once the credit report monitoring system receives the information, it may store a copy of part of or all of the information in a computer-readable storage medium, such as another hard drive, optical disk, and/or other memory.
  • [0030]
    In one embodiment, the credit report monitoring system 170 is configured to monitor the credit report of an enrolled consumer and provide alerts to the enrolled consumer. The credit report monitoring system 170 may be configured to access a consumer's credit report (such as by requesting a credit report from a credit bureau 140) and identify alerts for the consumer on a periodic basis, such as daily, every three days, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bimonthly, or according to any other period of time. Depending on the embodiment, the period may be selected by the consumer 130A, 130B, 130C. Upon finding suspicious activity in the credit report of one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C, the credit report monitoring system 170 may be configured to notify the respective one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C of the suspicious activity. The notification may be sent via any correspondence, such as email, paper mail, phone call, first person conversation, a web interface, fax, and/or SMS message. The method of sending the notification may be selectively chosen by the one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C. Suspicious activity may include the opening of a new revolving or installment account, opening new credit cards, applying for a loan, opening a new telephone account, or making new charges on existing accounts that are larger than the typical charges made on the account, the availability of a credit report when no credit report was available before, and/or any other changes between a current credit report and one or more previous credit reports.
  • [0031]
    In the embodiment of FIG. 1A, the credit report monitoring system 170 includes a report existence system 150. The report existence system 150 may include one or more computing devices. Depending on the embodiment, the report existence system 150 may be configured to communicate with one or more credit monitoring systems 170 and/or one or more credit bureaus 140. This communication may take place via a network, such as a wired or wireless network.
  • [0032]
    The report existence system 150 may be configured to request a credit report for the consumer 130A, 130B, 130C, either once or multiple times, such as periodic requests. The report existence system 150 may also evaluate a reply to a credit report request, determine when no credit report exists for a consumer 130, and initiate storage of that information and related information, such as the time of determination and any returned credit report. The report existence system 150 may also return this information (and a credit report, if found) either by request or automatically, to one or more credit bureaus 140, one or more credit report monitoring systems 170, and/or the respective consumer 130A, 130B, 130C.
  • [0033]
    In FIG. 1A, one or more consumers attempt to enroll in a credit report monitoring service 170 provided by the credit bureau 140 by transmitting enrollment information over a web-based user interface, for example. As noted above, in order for a consumer 130A, 130B, 130C to enroll in a credit monitoring service (e.g., provided by the credit report monitoring system 170), the consumer may need to have a credit report, but a credit report may not be available. Thus, those consumers 130A, 130B, 130C for whom a credit report cannot be located may be denied enrollment in the credit report monitoring service 170.
  • [0034]
    Advantageously, for those consumers 130A, 130B, 130C that do not currently have a credit report, the report existence system 150 may periodically check for the existence of a credit report. The period may be any interval of time, such as one day, five days, one week, 2 weeks, one month, two months, or any other period of time. In one embodiment, the period may be selectively chosen by the one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C. When a credit report for the one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C is located by the report existence system 150, the credit report monitoring system 170 may be notified by the report existence system 150. In one embodiment, when the report existence system 150 returns a credit report for one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C to the credit report monitoring system 170, the credit report monitoring system 170 automatically completes the enrollment of the respective one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C. The report monitoring system 170 may notify the respective one or more consumers 130A, 130B, 130C of their successful enrollment in the credit report monitoring service. In some embodiments, if no credit report is located when the report existence system requests a credit report for a consumer 130A, 130B, 130C, the report existence system 150 may notify the respective consumer 130A, 130B, 130C that no credit report exists. Such a notification may be transmitted each time the report existence system 150 checks for the existence of a credit report, or according to some other schedule, such as monthly, or by request from the consumer 130A, 130B, 130C.
  • [0035]
    FIG. 1B is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a report existence system 150 in communication with a consumer 130D and a credit bureau 140 via the network 160. This embodiment may allow consumers 130D that currently do not have a credit report to monitor the lack of existence of a credit report. These consumers 130D may include those that have never had a credit report, for example children, and those consumers that have previously had a credit report but currently do not have a credit report due to extended periods of no activity in their credit files, for example, such as might be the case for the elderly and expatriates. In the embodiment of FIG. 1B, the report existence system 150 may receive enrollment information directly from the consumer 130 via a web user interface that the consumer 130D may access over the network 160. The user interface may allow the consumer to provide enrollment information to the user interface through features on the interface, such as text entry fields, drop down menus, check boxes, and or buttons, and then the interface may allow the user to submit the information to the report existence system 150. In other embodiments, the enrollment information is received from a credit report monitoring system 170 (not shown) and/or a credit bureau 140.
  • [0036]
    After receiving the enrollment information from the consumer 130D, the report existence system 150 may send a request to the credit bureau 140, for example over the network, for a credit report for the consumer 130D. In one embodiment, the requests are sent periodically, for example every day. In other embodiments, periodic requests are sent hourly, weekly, monthly, or any other period of time.
  • [0037]
    Additionally, in one embodiment periodic notifications may be transmitted to the consumer 130D indicating that a credit report was not located. If a credit report was located, the report existence system 150 may provide a notification that a credit report was located and/or a copy of the located credit report.
  • [0038]
    In one embodiment, if a credit report for the consumer 130D was located then the report existence system 150 sends the consumer 130D information regarding fraud resolution services and/or credit monitoring services. Depending on the embodiment, the report existence system 150 may also be included in or affiliated with a credit bureau 140 and/or a credit report monitoring system 170. Advantageously, this embodiment allows those consumers who know that they do not have a credit report to be immediately notified if a credit report is created using their identification information and respond quickly to limit the effects of the unauthorized use of their identification information.
  • [0039]
    FIG. 1C is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary embodiment of a report existence system 150 in communication with a consumer 130E and a plurality of credit bureaus 140. The plurality of credit bureaus 140 may comprise Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, any agency thereof, or any other entity that provides credit-related data. In this embodiment, the report existence system 150 may send a request, and, depending on the embodiment, periodically requests, for a credit report of the consumer 130E to one or more of the plurality credit bureaus 140. In one embodiment, a request for a credit report is transmitted to multiple, e.g., two, three, or more, of the credit bureaus 140. The one or more credit bureaus 140 may reply to the report existence system with the credit report for the consumer 130 and/or a notification that a credit report was found or with a notification that no credit report for the consumer 130 exists.
  • [0040]
    In some circumstances, one credit bureau 140 may have a credit report for the consumer 130 while other credit bureaus 140 may not have a credit report for the consumer 130. Thus, accessing a plurality of credit bureaus 140 may advantageously provide a more accurate assessment of the existence of a credit report for the consumer 130. Additionally, if the credit bureaus 140 take different amounts of time to receive and process credit data before making a new credit report available to requesting entities, by requesting credit reports from a plurality of credit bureaus 140 the report existence system 150 may more quickly be notified of the existence of a credit report for the consumer 130E by receiving the credit report from the credit bureau 140 that most quickly makes available the credit report for the consumer 130.
  • [0041]
    In one embodiment, the report existence system 150 sends the consumer 130 a notification that one or more credit bureaus 140 found a credit report and/or one or more credit bureaus 140 did not find a credit report. In embodiments wherein a credit report monitoring system 170 sends a request for a credit report to the report existence system 150, the report existence system 150 may send a credit report to the credit report monitoring system if a credit report is ever available.
  • System Information
  • [0042]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram of one embodiment of a credit report monitoring system 170, also referred to herein as simply “monitoring system.” The credit report monitoring system 170 may be operated by a monitor provider, which in one exemplary embodiment includes a credit bureau. The monitoring system may further comprise human personnel that interact with the computing devices of the monitoring system 170.
  • [0043]
    In one embodiment, the monitoring system 170 is configured to interface with multiple devices and/or data sources such as in the exemplary network configuration of FIGS. 1A, 1B, and 1C. The monitoring system 170 may be configured to implement certain systems and methods herein. For example, in one embodiment the monitoring system 170 may be configured to periodically request a credit file associated with a consumer 130 from one or more credit bureaus 140. The functionality provided for in the components and modules of the monitoring system 170 may be combined into fewer components and modules or further separated into additional components and modules.
  • [0044]
    In general, the word modules, as used herein, refers to logic embodied in hardware or firmware, or to a collection of software instructions, possibly having entry and exit points, written in a programming language such as, for example, C, C++, C#. A software modules may be complied and linked into an executable program, installed in a dynamic link library, or may be written in an interpreted programming language such as, for example, BASIC, Java, Perl, or Python. It will be appreciated that software modules may be callable from other modules or from themselves or may be invoked in response to detected events and interrupts, or both. Software instructions may be embedded in firmware, such as an EPROM. It will be further appreciated that hardware modules may be comprised of connected logic units, such as programmable gate arrays or processors. The modules described herein are preferably implemented as software modules, but may be represented in hardware or firmware. Generally, the modules described herein refer to logical modules that may be combined with other modules or devices into sub-modules despite their physical organization or storage.
  • [0045]
    In one embodiment, the monitoring system 170 includes, for example, a server or personal computer that is IBM, Macintosh, or Linux/Unix compatible. In another embodiment, the monitoring system 170 includes a laptop computer, smart phone, personal digital assistant, or other computing device. The monitoring system 170 may include a memory, such as random access memory (“RAM”) for temporary storage of information, a read only memory (“ROM”) for permanent storage of information, and a mass storage device 220, such as a hard drive, diskette, optical media storage device, or USB flash drive. In certain embodiments, the mass storage device 220 stores the enrollment information for each of a plurality of consumers 130. Typically, the modules of the monitoring system are in communication with each other via a standards based bus system. In different embodiments, the standards based bus system could be Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), Microchannel, SCSI, Industrial Standard Architecture (ISA), and Extended ISA (EISA) architectures, for example.
  • [0046]
    The monitoring system 170 is generally controlled and coordinated by operating system software, such as Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, SunOS, Solaris, Blackberry OS, or other compatible operating systems. In Macintosh systems, the operating system may be any available operating system, such as MAC OS X. In other embodiments, the monitoring system 170 may be controlled by a proprietary operating system. Conventional operating systems control and schedule computer processes for execution, perform memory management, provide file systems, networking, and I/O services, and provide a user interface, such as a graphical user interface (“GUI”), among other functions.
  • [0047]
    The exemplary monitoring system 170 includes one or more commonly available input/output (I/O) interfaces and devices 210, such as a keyboard, mouse, touchpad, and printer. In one embodiment, the I/O interfaces and devices 210 include one or more display devices, such as a monitor, that allow the visual presentation of data to a user. More particularly, a display device provides for the presentation of GUIs, application software data, and multimedia presentations, for example. The monitoring system 170 may also include one or more multimedia devices 240, such as speakers, video cards, graphics accelerators, and microphones, for example. In one embodiment, the I/O interfaces and devices 210 comprise devices that are in communication with modules of the monitoring system 170 via a network, such as the network 160 or any local area network, including secured local area networks, or any combination thereof.
  • [0048]
    In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the monitoring system 170 also includes application modules that may be executed by the CPU 205. More particularly, the application modules may include an enrollment module 270, a monitoring module 260, and a reporting module 250. In general, the enrollment module 270 may be configured to interact with consumers 130 (e.g., FIGS. 1A, 1B, 1C) in order to receive enrollment information from the consumers 130 and enroll the consumers 130 in a credit report monitoring service, and may use the I/O interfaces and devices 210 to interface with consumers. The enrollment module may also be configured to initiate storage of any received enrollment information in the mass storage device 220. For example, embodiment, the enrollment module 270 may provide a user interface that consumers may access using a web browser, and the user interface is configured to receive enrollment information and transmit it back to the enrollment module 270. Upon receipt of the enrollment information, the enrollment module 270 may initiate storage of the enrollment information in the mass storage device 220, which may include providing the enrollment information to the standards bus system.
  • [0049]
    The monitoring module 260 may be configured to determine if changes have been made to a consumer's credit report or determine if a credit report exists for a consumer. In one exemplary embodiment, the monitoring module 260 periodically transmits a request to and receives a reply from one or more credit bureaus 140 over a network 160 (not shown in FIG. 2) using the I/O Interfaces and Devices 210. The request may be for a credit report for one or more consumers, and the reply may be a notification that no credit report was available for one or more consumers, a notification that a credit report was located for one or more consumers, and/or a credit report for one or more consumers. The monitoring module 260 may initiate storage of any and all replies from the one or more credit bureaus 140 in the mass storage device 220. The monitoring module 260 may also initiate retrieval of previous replies received for one or more consumers from the mass storage device 220. Upon receipt of the previous replies, the monitoring module 260 may evaluate the replies, for example by comparing and/or contrasting the most recent reply from the one or more credit bureaus 140 for the a consumer with one or more previously received reply from the one or more credit bureaus 140 for the respective consumer and by detecting any changes between the replies received for the one or more consumers. For example, the monitoring module 260 may be configured to detect the opening of a new bank account, the obtaining of a new loan, or the obtaining of a new credit card that was not included in a previous reply from a credit bureau 140. The monitoring module 260 may also be configured to detect the existence of a credit report for a consumer when no credit report existed previously, for example by detecting the receipt of a credit report when no credit report had previously been received. The monitoring module 260 may initiate the storage of any changes it detects in the mass storage device 220 and/or provide the detected changes to the reporting module 250.
  • [0050]
    The reporting module 250 may provide notifications to consumers 130 and/or other authorized entities regarding changes in a credit report, the existence of a credit report for the respective consumer, and/or the status of the respective consumer's enrollment in a credit monitoring service. The reporting module 250 may provide this notification through the I/O interfaces and devices, such as by initiating the transmission of an email to the consumers and/or other authorized entities. The notification may be provided according to a predetermined schedule, such as a predetermined period of time and/or in response to detecting suspicious activity. The reporting module 250 may also provide notification through a user interface that consumers and/or authorized entities may access using a web browser. For example, consumers may be able to select a link on a web page provided by a credit report monitoring system 170 that may bring them to a user interface that indicates the results of one or more credit report requests for the respective consumer and/or the results of an evaluation of any returned credit reports.
  • [0051]
    In other embodiments, the monitoring system 170 may include fewer or additional modules and components, the modules may be incorporated into other computing devices, and/or the modules may be combined into fewer components and modules or further separated into additional components and modules. For example, in the embodiment of FIG. 1C, the report existence monitor 150 may include the reporting module 250 and the monitoring module 260, and/or the monitoring module may be further divided into a monitoring module and a report existence module. Each of these application modules may include, by way of example, components, such as software components, object-oriented software components, class components and task components, processes, functions, attributes, procedures, subroutines, segments of program code, drivers, firmware, microcode, circuitry, data, databases, data structures, tables, arrays, and variables.
  • [0052]
    Overall Process Flow
  • [0053]
    FIG. 3 is a flowchart 300 illustrating one embodiment of a method of enrolling a consumer 130 (e.g., FIG. 1A) in a credit report monitoring service. The flowchart of FIG. 3 illustrates exemplary processes for enrollment of consumers in a credit monitoring service and receiving a credit report for a consumer. The method of FIG. 3 may be performed by the credit report monitoring system 170, the report existence system 150, and/or any other suitable computing device. Depending on the embodiment, the method of FIG. 3 may include fewer or additional blocks and the blocks may be performed in an order that is different than illustrated in FIG. 3.
  • [0054]
    Beginning in block 310, enrollment information for a consumer 130 is received. For example, the credit report monitoring system 170 (e.g., FIG. 1A) may generate a user interface including a form that receives enrollment information from consumers and transmits the user interface to the consumer via the network 160. The consumer may receive the enrollment user interface in response to selecting another link on another web site indicating the consumer's desire to enroll in a credit monitoring service. In other embodiments, a request for enrollment information may be made via other mediums, such as email, SMS message, facsimile, telephone call (which may or may not be automated), and/or paper letter, for example.
  • [0055]
    In block 320 the credit report monitoring system 170 requests a credit report for the consumer. Depending on the embodiment, the request may sent to one or more credit bureaus 140, and the request may include all or part of the enrollment information provided by the consumer. The request may be sent via the network 160, for example, or via other mediums, such as facsimile, telephone call (which may or may not be automated), and/or paper letter.
  • [0056]
    In block 330, a determination is made if a credit report was located. For example, the credit report monitoring system 170 may receive a reply from a credit bureau 140 which may include a notification that the credit bureau 140 could not locate a credit report for the consumer 130 or which may include a notification that a credit report was located (which may further include the credit report). The credit report monitoring system 170 may evaluate the reply to determine if the credit bureau 140 located a credit report for the consumer 130.
  • [0057]
    In block 340, if no credit report was located, a credit report may be periodically requested. For example, a report existence system 150 may periodically sends a request to one or more credit bureaus 140 for a credit report of the consumer 130 via the network 160. Depending one the embodiment, the period may be hourly, daily, bi-weekly, monthly bimonthly, or any other period of time. After a request is made, in block 330 the determination may again be made if a credit report was located. Periodic requests may be made for a predetermined amount of time, for example a year, or a predetermined number of times, such as 10 times, or they may be made as long as requested by the consumer.
  • [0058]
    In block 350, if a credit report has been located for the consumer, the enrollment of the consumer in a credit monitoring service continues. In one embodiment, the credit report monitoring system 170 continues the enrollment of the consumer after receiving a credit report and/or a notification that a credit report exists. A credit report for the consumer may be located in response to the first request for a credit report, for example, or may be located a day later, a month later, a year later, or any other period of time later.
  • [0059]
    FIG. 4 is a flowchart 400 illustrating another embodiment of a method of enrolling a consumer 130 (e.g., FIG. 1A) in a credit report monitoring service. Certain blocks of the flowchart may be performed by the credit report monitoring system 170, the report existence system 150, and/or any other suitable computing device. Depending on the embodiment, the method of FIG. 4 may include fewer or additional blocks and the blocks may be performed in an order that is different than illustrated in FIG. 4.
  • [0060]
    Beginning in block 410, a data breach occurs. In one embodiment, the data breach involves the theft or loss of data that includes personally identifiable information. The entity whose data is breached may be any entity that stores the personal information of consumers, including, for example, businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, churches, civic groups, government organizations, and health care providers. The data may be stored on any medium, including digital media, such as hard drives, USB jump drives, optical storage devices, lap tops, computer tapes, or diskettes. Alternatively, the data may be intercepted while being transmitted via a network, such as one or more of the following: LANs, WANs, MANs, or the Internet, or the data may be acquired over a network by defeating or circumventing security measures of a device that is configured to store data on digital media and communicate with the network. In other embodiments, the data breach may involve the theft or other loss of data that is stored on non-digital records, such as paper records.
  • [0061]
    The breached personal information may include, any information regarding a consumer, such as, for example, name, maiden name, signature, Social Security number, address, phone number, date of birth, credit card number(s), debit card number(s), bank account number(s), other account numbers, identification number(s), names of family members, academic records, credit score, and/or medical records.
  • [0062]
    In block 420, the enrollment information of consumers 130 affected by the data breach is provided to the monitoring system 170. In one embodiment, the consumer 130 provides the enrollment information to the monitoring system 170, such as via a web interface or a telephone. In other embodiments, the entity whose data was breached may provide the enrollment information of the consumer 130 to the credit report monitoring system 170. In some embodiments, the entity whose data was breached may pay a fee associated with enrollment. Depending on the embodiment, the credit report monitoring system 170 may be a part of or affiliated with a credit bureau 140.
  • [0063]
    In block 430, a request is made for a credit report for a consumer. In one embodiment, the credit report monitoring system 170 sends a request for the credit report to one or more credit bureaus 140. Depending on the embodiment, the credit monitoring system 170 may include a report existence system 150 (e.g., FIG. 1A), which sends the request for the credit report to the one or more credit bureaus 140.
  • [0064]
    In block 440, a determination is made if a credit report was found for the consumer. For example, the monitoring system 170 may determine if the one or more credit bureaus 140 returned a credit report for the consumer 130. In one illustrative embodiment, the monitoring system 170 may determine that a credit report was found if a credit report or an indication of the availability of a credit report was returned by the one or more credit bureaus 140.
  • [0065]
    If no credit report if found in block 440, in block 460 periodic request for a credit report are made. In one exemplary embodiment, the report existence system 150 periodically sends a request to one or more credit bureaus 140 for a credit report of the consumer 130. The period may be one hour, a day, two days, one week, two weeks, one month, or any other period. In one embodiment, the frequency at which credit reports for a consumer is requested changes over time, such as requesting credit reports daily for a first few days, then weekly for a few weeks, and then monthly until a credit report is found or the periodic requests are discontinued. Upon receiving the response of the credit bureau 140 to the periodic request for a credit report, the method may return to block 440 to determine if a credit report was located.
  • [0066]
    In block 450, the enrollment of the consumer 130 in a credit report monitoring service is continued. In one embodiment, all of the remaining enrollment information from the consumer 130 has already been received by a credit report monitoring system 170, for example when the consumer 130 initially attempted to enroll in the credit monitoring service, and the credit monitoring service 170 may continue enrollment of the consumer 130 in the credit monitoring service without further communication with the consumer 130. In other embodiments the credit report monitoring system 170 may need to acquire at least some enrollment information from the consumer 130 prior to or as a part of completing enrollment.
  • [0067]
    FIG. 5 is a flowchart 500 illustrating one embodiment of a method of monitoring the existence of a credit report for a consumer 130. The exemplary method illustrated in FIG. 5 may be performed, for example, for consumers who would like to monitor the non-existence of a credit report. Certain blocks of the flowchart may be performed by the credit report monitoring system 170, the report existence system 150, and/or any other suitable computing device. Depending on the embodiment, the method of FIG. 5 may include fewer or additional blocks and the blocks may be performed in a different order than is illustrated.
  • [0068]
    In block 510, enrollment information for a credit report existence service is received. The enrollment information may be received, for example, by a report existence system 150, a credit monitoring system 170, and/or a credit bureau 140. In one embodiment, the consumer 130 may supply the enrollment information, and in other embodiments, an entity whose data has been breached may provide the enrollment information.
  • [0069]
    In block 520, a request is sent to one or more credit bureaus 140 for a credit report for a consumer, using any of the means explained above. In one exemplary embodiment, the request is sent by a report existence system 150.
  • [0070]
    In block 530, the credit report existence system, for example, determines if a credit report is located. In one embodiment, the report existence system 150 determines if the credit bureau 140 located or returned a credit report for the consumer 130.
  • [0071]
    In block 540, if the response of the credit bureau 140 indicates that no credit report for the consumer 130 was located and/or available, the consumer may be notified that no credit report has been located. The notification may be sent by the report existence system 150, the credit report monitoring system 170, and/or the credit bureau 140. A consumer may be notified after each determination is made that a credit report is located, after a predetermined subset of determinations, or according to a periodic schedule, for example each month. In other embodiments, consumers may not be notified if no credit report is located. In block 550 periodic requests for a credit report are transmitted to one or more credit bureaus 140. In some embodiments, blocks 530, 540, and 550 are repeated until a credit report for the consumer is located.
  • [0072]
    In block 560, when a credit report has been located for a consumer, the consumer 130 is notified that a credit report was located. The notification may include a copy of the credit report. In block 570, the consumer 130 may be provided with information regarding fraud resolution and/or credit monitoring services. In other embodiments, the consumer 130 may be provided the information via a web page or via first person contact. In one embodiment, the fraud resolution services or credit monitoring services or both services are offered by a credit bureau, such as Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, or any agency thereof.
  • [0073]
    The foregoing description details certain embodiments of the invention. It will be appreciated, however, that no matter how detailed the foregoing appears in text, the invention can be practiced in many ways. As is also stated above, it should be noted that the use of particular terminology when describing certain features or aspects of the invention should not be taken to imply that the terminology is being re-defined herein to be restricted to including any specific characteristics of the features or aspects of the invention with which that terminology is associated. The scope of the invention should therefore be construed in accordance with the appended claims and any equivalents thereof.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A computer readable medium storing software instructions that are readable by a computing system, wherein the software code is executable on the computing system in order to cause the computing system to perform the method of enrolling a consumer in a credit monitoring service, the method comprising:
    (a) providing a user interface to a consumer;
    (b) receiving enrollment information from the consumer via the user interface, the enrollment information comprising one or more of: a name, a social security number, and an address of the consumer;
    (c) transmitting a credit report request to a credit bureau, the credit report request comprising at least some of the enrollment information;
    (d) receiving an indication that the credit bureau did not locate a credit report of the consumer;
    (e) notifying the consumer that a credit report was not located by the credit bureau; and
    (f) after a predetermined time,
    requesting a credit report of the consumer from the credit bureau;
    if a credit report is not returned in response to the request, returning to step (f);
    if a credit report is returned in response to the request, continuing enrollment of the consumer in the credit monitoring service.
  2. 2. The computer readable medium of claim 1, wherein notifying comprises transmitting an electronic message to the consumer.
  3. 3. The computer readable medium of claim 2, wherein the electronic message comprises an email.
  4. 4. The computer readable medium of claim 1, wherein the predetermined time is one day, one week, or one month.
  5. 5. The computer readable medium of claim 1, wherein the predetermined time is selected by the consumer.
  6. 6. The computer readable medium of claim 1, wherein the user interface is viewable in a web browser
  7. 7. The computer readable medium of claim 1, wherein the enrollment information is received via a network.
  8. 8. The computer readable medium of claim 1, wherein the credit report request is transmitted to a plurality of credit bureaus.
  9. 9. The computer readable medium of claim 1, wherein the credit bureau comprises the credit monitoring service.
  10. 10. A computerized method of enrolling a consumer in a service that requires the existence of a credit report, the method comprising:
    receiving an indication from one or more credit bureaus that a credit report for the consumer is not available;
    periodically requesting a credit report of the consumer from the one or more credit bureaus; and
    if a credit report of the consumer is located, continuing enrollment of the consumer in the service.
  11. 11. The method of claim 10, further comprising receiving enrollment information for one or more consumers.
  12. 12. The method of claim 10, further comprising notifying the consumer when the indication that no credit report is available for the consumer is received.
  13. 13. The method of claim 10, further comprising notifying the consumer when a credit report for the consumer is received.
  14. 14. A computerized method of monitoring the existence of a credit report for a consumer, the method comprising:
    requesting a credit report for a consumer from one or more credit bureaus;
    receiving an indication from the one or more credit bureaus that a credit report for the consumer is not available;
    after a predetermined time period, requesting a credit report for the consumer from the one or more credit bureaus;
    receiving an indication from the one or more credit bureaus that a credit report for the consumer is not available; and
    repeating the request of a credit report for the consumer until a credit report for the consumer is available.
  15. 15. The method of claim 14, further comprising providing the consumer with information on one or both of fraud resolution or credit monitoring services.
  16. 16. A system for enrolling a consumer in a credit monitoring service, the system comprising:
    an enrollment module configured to receive enrollment information for a consumer and to enroll the consumer in a credit monitoring service; and
    a report existence module configured to request a credit report of the consumer from one or more credit bureaus, wherein
    in response to receiving an indication that no credit report is available for the consumer, the report existence module is configured to periodically re-request a credit report of the consumer; and
    in response to receiving an indication that a credit report is available for the consumer, continuing enrollment of the consumer in the credit monitoring service.
  17. 17. The system of claim 16, further comprising a notification module configured to notify the consumer when a credit report is received for the consumer.
  18. 18. The system of claim 16, wherein the report existence module re-request a credit report of the consumer on a periodic basis.
  19. 19. The system of claim 18, wherein a period of the periodic basis is determined by the consumer.
  20. 20. The system of claim 18, wherein a period of the periodic basis varies over time.
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