Identity Theft

Have You Been A Victim of Identity Theft?

Identity Theft is a criminal act where another individual has used your name in order to:

  • Make Purchases
  • Use Credit Cards
  • Rent an Apartment
  • Obtain Medical Services
  • Re-route your Tax Refund
  • Impersonate you during contact with law enforcement
  • Obtain utilities without your consent.

Even if you resolve matters regarding fraudulent credit card purchases with your bank, you may still receive letters and phone calls from debt collectors for items you did not purchase.

In addition, you may also receive negative entries on your credit report- resulting in increased interest rates and difficulties receiving credit.

If you have been a victim of Identity Theft, the Federal Trade Commission has created a helpful handbook called Taking Charge, that explains what to do if your identity is stolen.

Immediate Steps

·         Start by asking a credit reporting company to place an Initial Fraud Alert on your credit report. The report lasts for 90-days, but is renewable, and makes it more difficult for the criminal to open more accounts in your name.

o    How to place an Initial Fraud Alert

§  Contact a credit reporting company (They are listed below)

·         Report that you are a victim of identity theft.

·         Ask the company to place a fraud alert on your file.

·         Make sure that the company will contact the other credit reporting companies.

§  Keep records of when you placed the call, and make sure to renew the Fraud Alert if the 90-days expire.

·         Ask for a credit report from all 3 companies.

o    After requesting an initial fraud alert, the credit reporting company will explain your rights and how to receive free copies of your credit report.

o    If you know which of your accounts has been used in the theft, contact businesses where unwanted purchases were made and resolve the issue.

o    Contact someone in the fraud department, and follow up in writing.

o    Make sure to document and keep records to all communication between businesses and yourself- as to avoid any problem in the future.

§  If you choose to send a letter, make sure to send it by certified mail and obtain a return receipt as proof of communication.

·         Create an Identity Theft Report. An Identity Theft Report will help you: remove fraudulent information from your credit report, prevent debt companies from harassing you, extend fraud alerts, and get information regarding account an identity thief has misused or opened.

o    To create a report:

§  Report and complete the appropriate form and submit it to the FTC.

·         Save the complaint reference number after you submit the form.

§  Upon completion, the website will also provide the opportunity to create an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. Be sure to print this out and save it before leaving the screen.

·         You can also call the FTC:

o    1-877-438-4338

o    1-866-653-4261

§  The second step is to file a police report at the police department where the theft occurred or your local police department.

·         Make sure to bring the following documents:

o    Copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit

o    Any other proof of theft

o    Government-issued photo ID

o    Proof of Address

o    FTC’S Memo To Law Enforcement 

·         Credit Companies

o    Equifax on-line or call (800) 685-1111
Experian on-line or call (888) 397-3742
Transunion on-line or call (877) 322-8228

Sample letters and forms for victims of Identity Theft can be found here.

 

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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