How can Consumer Credit Lawyers help me if I have been the victim of identity theft?
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”) was a major piece of legislation passed by Congress to supplement the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). Many of its provisions are designed to aid consumers who have been victimized by identity thieves and to prevent it.
We can guide you through the entire process of stopping the damage caused by the theft of your identity. We will help you posit disputes to credit reporting agencies and send notices to your creditors about your stolen identity. If the credit reporting agencies or the creditors refuse to remove the damage caused by the identity thief, we will sue them for you, for free.
How long can the effects of identity theft last?
It’s difficult to predict how long the effects of identity theft may linger. That’s because it depends on many factors including the type of theft, whether the thief sold or passed your information on to other thieves, whether the thief is caught, and problems related to correcting your credit report.
Victims of identity theft should monitor financial records for several months after they discover the crime. Victims should review their credit reports once every three months in the first year of the theft, and once a year thereafter. Stay alert for other signs of identity theft.
Don’t delay in correcting your records and contacting all companies that opened fraudulent accounts. Make the initial contact by phone, even though you will normally need to follow up in writing. The longer the inaccurate information goes uncorrected, the longer it will take to resolve the problem.
What if the police won’t take a report?
Many police departments are reluctant to write a report on this type of crime. First of all, they may tell you that you are not the victim, because the credit grantor, who lost the money, is the victim. They often want the report to come from the creditor who many times will not cooperate because it is not cost effective for them to spend the time and energy to assist the police. They may have already lost thousands of dollars. This fraud loss (to them!) is viewed as a cost of doing business. It is not fair to you as the victim, and things have to change, but that is the situation in many places.
Even if the creditor won’t prosecute, you must insist that the police take a report. Speak to the head of the fraud unit, (or white-collar crime unit) of the police department in the county(s) or cities where the fraud accounts were opened. (If accounts were opened all over the nation, you may be able to get the secret service involved.) You will need a report to clean up the credit mess.
Should you change your social security number if you are a victim of identity-theft?
In most cases this is a bad idea. You have had that number for many years and it is attached to many documents, including your credit report and various other private and governmental documents. If you must change your social security number (this will be an incredible hassle with the Social Security Administration), your credit reports with your old social security number will be attached to the reports with the new number. This will look very suspicious to creditors and employers, and cause further problems in proving yourself to be the victim instead of the imposter.
Should you cancel all your credit cards even if they have not been invaded by the imposter, just to be safe?
No. Since your credit worthiness is shaky due to the fraud, you will probably have a hard time getting new credit in the near future. If you have stopped your credit, you may have trouble getting loans, a rental car, or even a job. Instead, for those accounts that have not been touched by the impersonator, immediately notify each credit grantor of your true accounts and that you are a victim of identity fraud. Set up a new password. Put a fraud alert on these accounts and tell the bank that they are not to change your address without verification from you in writing from your present address. Do not use a password with your birth date, mother’s maiden name, or any of your present identifiers-not even your pet’s name. Make up a strange name and use the same one for all accounts so you do not get confused.
What is a fraud alert?
A fraud alert is a request that a consumer makes to a credit reporting agency when he or she has been a victim of identity theft.The agencies will verify the identity of the person requesting the alert, which stays active for only 90 days unless the consumer requests an Extended Fraud Alert.
What is an extended fraud alert ?
An extended fraud alert is a fraud alert that is extended by the consumer. It stays on your report for 7 years. This alert will exclude the consumer from any lists generated to sell to users for non consumer generated transactions such as prescreening lists. The agency must also notify the consumer of their right to two free credit reports within 12 months of the request.Consumers may provide a telephone number or other reasonable method of contact if an extended alert is in place so that a merchant or credit grantor will be able to verify an identity. A consumer should submit an identity theft report in order to obtain an extended alert.
What is an active duty alert ?
An active duty alert may be placed on a credit report by a consumer on active duty status, that is they are on duty someplace other than their usual station. Such an alert will remain on the report for 12 months and their name cannot be used on a list sold to users for non consumer generated transactions.
All three alerts provide that the consumer does not authorize new credit (other than open ended credit on an existing credit card) or new cards, or increase of credit limit on an existing account. Merchants who see the alert may not proceed with a credit transaction without verifying the identity of the requestor.
What if the information in my credit report is wrong?
You can dispute inaccurate information with the credit reporting agency (“CRA”). If you tell a CRA that your file contains inaccurate information, the CRA must investigate the items (usually within 30 days) by presenting to its information source all relevant evidence you submit, unless your dispute is frivolous. The source (e.g., bank) must review your evidence and report its findings to the CRA. (The source also must advise national CRAs — to which it has provided the data — of any error.) The CRA must give you a written report of the investigation, and a copy of your report if the investigation results in any change. If the CRA’s investigation does not resolve the dispute, you may add a 100-word statement to your file. The CRA must normally include a summary of your statement in future reports. If an item is deleted or a dispute statement is filed, you may ask that anyone who has recently received your report be notified of the change.
If you think your rights have been violated, call Attorney Gary Nitzkin, toll free at (888) 293-2882. The call is free and the advice is priceless. You can also email him at [email protected]