What should you do if you are a victim of identity theft?
One of the most common violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is related to identity theft. The monetary and emotional harm incurred in relation to identity theft can be overwhelming. The FCRA provides consumers with specific protections and requires consumer reporting agencies, and the people who furnish them with information to follow specific procedures in order to protect consumers.
Step One: Get a copy of your credit reports.
To see how to order a credit report click on Correcting Your Credit File.
You want to look at the credit history section of your credit report and the inquiry section. The credit history section will show all of the accounts that have been opened under your name. By looking at the credit history section you will be able which account belongs to you and which account is the result of identity theft. Remember it can take several months for accounts to show up on your credit report.
The credit history section is the most important part of your credit file if you have been the victim of identity theft. The inquiry section will show you what companies have been pulling your credit reports. Credit inquiry section will give you a good idea of how many accounts will be opened in your name. The credit inquiry section will also give you a good idea of when your private information was stolen because each inquiry will display the date that the company pulled your credit.
Second Step: Order a fraud alert.
If you think that you are a victim of identity theft you can order fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert will disclose a telephone number for you and the fraud alert will ask the credit card company to call that number before opening an account. An initial alert will stay on your credit report for 90 days. An extended alert can stay on your credit report for seven years.
Third Step: File a police report.
Go to your local police department and file a police report. Make sure that you provide as much specificity as possible when you file a police report. If you think you know the name of the person who stole your identity then provide that information. If you know when or how your identity was stolen provide that information. Make sure that you get an official copy the police report.
Fourth Step: Complete a fraud affidavit.
Fill out a fraud affidavit. The following is a link to a Fraud Affidavit provided by the Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/resources/forms/affidavit.pdf
Fourth Step: Put together a dispute letter.
You want to put together a dispute letter and send it to Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Make sure that you include a copy of the police report, fraud affidavit, and the credit report (circle the information that is the result of identity theft). You must also include a copy of your driver’s license, social security card (or W2 if you do not have a social security card), and a utility bill with your name and address on it. Make sure that you send the letter via Certified Mail.
The following is a sample of a dispute letter.
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Madam or Sir:
My name is John Doe. My date of birth is xx/xx/xx. My social security number is xxx-xx-xxx. I have lived at the same/following address(es) for the last two years. I have included a copy of my driver’s license, social security card/W2, and a copy of utility bill. I have included a copy of a police report and fraud affidavit. I have also included a copy of my credit report.
I am the victim of identity theft. I have circled the fraudulent information contained in my credit report. This information does not relate to any transaction by me. Please block this information from my credit report.
Fifth Step: Documentation.
Keep copies of all documents. Keep a hard copy of the dispute letters and of all of the documents that were sent with the dispute letters. Make sure that you keep a copy of any documents that you receive from credit card companies, credit reporting agencies, collection companies or any other documents that relate to the identity theft. Never throw anything away. You may initially resolved identity theft issues only to have them reappear years later. If you have the documents then you may have an excellent lawsuit and more importantly, you will be able to protect your credit.
More Information on the Fair Credit Reporting Act:
4) Identity Theft; and
|Last Updated on Monday, 30 July 2012 15:55|
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