I think I’m the victim of a scam. Now what? If you’re getting bills from unheard of companies, pull your credit report immediately.

Q: I’m wondering if I’m being scammed. I received what looks like a bill from a company in Pennsylvania claiming that I have a current balance due of $704.02 as of February 9, 2018.

The statement says the account is past due account and they have agreed to accept 50 percent of the balance listed as a lump sum payment which will resolve in full the amount due on the account, This offer will remain valid for a minimum of 45 days from the date of this letter and may be extended by the company. for an additional period, at their sole discretion.

This is very confusing to me. The only time I have ever had a security system was in 2008 in Atlanta Georgia, and it was with Brinks. The real estate company said having a security system would help sell the house.

I have not responded in any form and won’t until I hear back from you. Also I should note I recently moved homes at the end of last year. At that time I was turned down for a car loan but then received about 15 or more letters in the mail from dozens of lenders, including big bank lenders..  All of these letters told me I’d been turned down for credit but that I could dispute it and get a free credit report.

I am afraid that because I am a disabled older person I may be a victim of a scam.

A: It sure sounds to us as though you are the victim of a scam. And, it may be more than one scam, so let’s go through it.

You’ve received an overdue bill from a company you’ve never done business with, for a property you no longer own or for a property that has nothing to do with the one where you live. That’s already two big red flags. Next, you were turned down for a car loan and then received an number of different solicitations to either lend you money or advise you to in rapid succession by a bunch of credit card and financial services companies. Did you apply to any of these company for a credit card or personal loan?

We’re guessing that you haven’t applied for credit in awhile, and that you haven’t checked your credit report for signs of fraud. Well, given this information, it’s past time for you to take some active steps to make sure your credit is secure.

Pull a copy of your credit history from the three credit reporting bureaus and see what’s going on. You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com and get a copy from Experian, Trans-Union, and Equifax. This should be free, although the website will ask you if you want to pay for a credit score. It might be worthwhile to do that (it runs around $9), but you can always go back to it later.

Once you get your credit report, it’s important to read it carefully and see if the report lists any credit cards, bank accounts, or other types of financial accounts that you don’t recognize. Pull out your statements for your current accounts to compare what accounts are listed with what you own.

The reports will show old loans that you paid off, including any old home loans you might have had in the past. It will also show any old car loans that you had or currently have.

What it should not show is any credit cards that you did not apply for, home and car loans that you never had. If your credit report shows any of these, or addresses for you that you do not recognize or “co-borrower” names that are strange to you, you have a real problem. If you think you have good credit, your credit report should not show any amounts owing to doctors, cable companies, alarm companies, cell phone companies and others that you don’t recognize.

If you see strange things on your credit history, you will need to file a police report to register that you have been the victim of identity theft. You will then have to freeze your credit by going to each of the three major credit reporting bureaus to put a freeze on your credit accounts. And, then you’ll have to sort out what’s been going on and contesting charges that you have not made.

You should also immediately file a report with the credit reporting bureaus that you have been a victim of identity theft. Then, freeze your credit or find a way to lock it down so that no additional new forms of credit can be authorized.

We can’t know for sure whether you are a victim of a fraud or identity theft, but it’s possible that you are. You may need to have someone help you, but be sure it’s someone you can trust. We hate to say it, but identity fraud is frequently performed by close family members.

This question is important for everybody, but in particular those looking to buy a home. If your credit is poor or someone has stolen your identity or taken out credit in your name, you’ll have real trouble getting financing for a home or, as you saw, to buy a car. We all need to be vigilant and monitor and guard our credit. A good first start for every home buyer is to go to AnnualCreditReport.com and pull at least one copy of your credit history from one of the three major credit reporting bureaus.