If you are the victim of identity theft, you have a mortgage credit problem on your hands. Most mortgage lenders use automatic underwriting systems (AUS) to approve or decline your mortgage. But if your credit report is loaded with inaccuracies, such the 16 MasterCards, Visas, and Amexes some dirtbag opened in your name to fund an extended jaunt to the Bahamas, the computer is likely to blow a fuse trying to sort out your real credit from the fake stuff. You won't get an approval right out of the gate.

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But that isn't the end. You may still be able to get a mortgage.

Most lenders use manual underwriting in special instances. They will have to pull a Residential Mortgage Credit Report, or RMCR, which takes longer and costs more. In some cases, programs that are available to applicants who get an automated approval will not be available to those who need a manual approval, or the down payment requirement may be higher. For example, some community mortgage programs will require a 5% down payment instead of 3%, or you may not be allowed to buy a triplex or fourplex without an automated approval.

You'll have to prove that you have been scammed.

File a police report. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. If you live in a state that allows this, you can even freeze your credit report (so no one can access it without your express permission). File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). File an Identity Theft Report with the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The FTC's Web site instructs you on how to do this.

You may be able to obtain a new Social Security Number.

Social Security is pretty picky about who they allow to do this. Just because you have bad credit doesn't mean you get a new number just like that. You have to show them that you have exhausted "all efforts to resolve the problems caused by someone else’s misuse of your Social Security number, and that you are still being disadvantaged by the misuse." A new Social Security number will be issued only if you can prove that someone else has stolen your number and is using it illegally. If your card has been lost or your number has fallen into the wrong hands, that's generally not enough. You must provide evidence that the number is actually being misused, and that the misuse is causing you harm.