Identity theft is a traumatic experience that can leave you with time-consuming burdens and substantial financial losses. With advances in technology, the increase of identity theft cases has become an issue for many consumers. Unlawful disclosure of your credit report, e-mail scams and intercepting bank statements and credit card offers are several ways others can obtain your personal information.
Whether credit card accounts were opened in your name or money has been stolen from your existing bank accounts, with the guidance of a dedicated consumer protection attorney you are taking a step in the right direction.
At Brian T. Canupp, PSC., we have helped victims of identity theft with the credit issues that result from these crimes. Through consistent communication, and with the and working knowledge at our disposal, we will work with you to determine what steps to take to protect you and your credit from further harm. We use both state law and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to fix the damage done by an identity thief.
Step One —Place a Fraud Alert on Your Reports
If you are a victim of identity theft, you need to take action. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you take the following steps as soon as possible, and you should always keep a record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence as well as the time you spent doing so.
- The first thing you should do is place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Review your credit reports. Fraud alerts can help stop any more accounts in your name.
- Contact the three consumer reporting agencies (CRA’s) below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You need to make report to each of the companies listed below.
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
STEP 2– File A Complaint With the FTC
You should next file a complaint with the FTC using its on-line complaint form; or call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
You can then provide a printed copy of your Complaint form to the police to incorporate into their police report. The printed FTC ID Theft Complaint, in conjunction with the police report, can constitute an Identity Theft Report and entitle you to certain protections. This Identity Theft Report can be used to:
(1) permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report;
(2) ensure that debts do not reappear on your credit report;
(3) prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft; and
(4) place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.
STEP 3– File a Police Report
Go to your local police department and tell them that you want to file a report about your identity theft. If the police won’t let you file a report, ask to file a “Miscellaneous Incident” report, or try another jurisdiction, like your state police.
Make sure to bring a copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint Form to the police department. Ask the officer to attach or incorporate the ID Theft Complaint into their police report. Tell them that you need a copy of the Identity Theft Report (the police report with your ID Theft Complaint attached or incorporated) to dispute the fraudulent accounts and debts created by the identity thief.
STEP 4– Contact the Company’s Fraud Department
Next you should call and write to the company’s fraud department who you believe allowed the account to be opened fraudulently and close them IMMEDIATELY. If you call, you should always follow up in writing, and include copies of supporting documents. As with all such communications, keep a copy for your records send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when.
Step 5— Dispute the Inaccurate Information With the CRAs
The above steps are what needs to happen within the first 48 hours of discovering your are the victim of identity theft. However, often times identity theft is discovered when you apply for credit or are denied insurance or an apartment due to a poor credit score.
Within 60 days of discovering the inaccurate information you need to obtain your credit history and review it again for inaccuracies. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit report, the Fair Credit Reporting Act provides a mechanism for you to protect your credit and your reputation. This is the part of the process where the guidance of an attorney knowledgeable in Kentucky identity theft statutes and the FCRA can help you navigate the “black hole” of the three credit reporting agencies.
Getting your credit back can prove to be a long and difficult process. We would be happy to discuss how to make this situation part of your past!