Identity Theft Help
Identity theft can happen to anyone, any time. Your entire identity can be compromised, or a single unauthorized account can be opened in your name. No matter how it happens, it can be a nightmare.
If someone assumes your identity through the use of stolen personal information and commits fraud, the event is likely to damage your credit report. Our identity theft attorneys will inform you of your rights to protect your finances and repair damage to your credit report if this happens.
Our attorneys are here to help you correct the problem, and make sure that there are not credit reporting errors, as a result of identity theft.
Identity theft is the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain. A wide range of sensitive personal information can be used to commit identity theft, including a person’s name, date of birth, address, Social Security number, driver’s license number, credit card and bank account numbers, and phone numbers.
What Are The Most Common Forms Of Identity Theft?
- Using the victim’s existing credit, bank, or other accounts without permission or legal authorization
- Opening new accounts in the victim’s name without permission or legal authorization
A victim of existing account identity theft can often resolve these issues directly with their financial institution by relying on their typical spending and payment patterns and/or providing proof that they were not in the particular state or states where the fraudulent transactions were entered into.
A victim of new account identity theft typically has no pre-existing relationship with the creditor(s) to prove he or she is not responsible for the debts opened in their name. Thus, victims of this second type of identity theft typically first discover that they are a victim of indentity theft after reviewing their credit report and noticing the national credit reporting agencies reporting lines of credit on their reports that they do not recognize. Since the thief will open lines of credit and fail to pay the bills, the accounts will be sent to collections and appear as bad debt on the victim’s credit report.
What Rights and Remedies Are Available To Identity Theft Victims?
Four federal laws usually come into play when a consumer has become a victim of identity theft:
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”)
- The Fair Credit Billing Act (“FCBA”)
- The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”)
- The Electronic Funds Transfer Act (“EFTA”)
All four of these federal laws can be used by victims of identity theft to help clean up their credit reports, correct billing errors, stop unlawful debt collection behavior, and prevent unauthorized electronic fund transfers.
What Are The First Steps I Should Take If I’ve Been A Victim of Identity Theft?
In order to prevent future harm, the following steps should be immediately taken:
- Place an initial fraud alert on all your credit reports
- Obtain and review your credit reports for evidence of additional identity theft
- Cancel any and all compromised credit card, bank, or other accounts
How Do I Prove I Am Not Responsible For Fraudulent New Accounts Or Charges?
In order to prove to a creditor that you are not responsible for fraudulent new accounts or exercise certain legal rights, such as clearing fraudulent accounts from your credit report and prohibiting creditors from selling the fraudulent debts to collection agencies, you must take the following steps to document the crime:
- File a Complaint with the FTC
- Prepare an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit
- File a Police Report with your local authorities
How Do I Prevent Further Harm And Restore My Financial Reputation Once The Crime Has Been Documented?
Once the initial damage has been done, additional steps need to be taken in order to ensure that creditors and debt collection agencies don’t ruin your financial reputation, including the following:
- Send Creditors and Collection Agencies Written Dispute Letters
- Fix Errors on your Credit Reports
- Monitor your Credit Reports
- Consider an Extended Fraud Alert
If you suspect that you may be a victim of identity theft and are concerned about protecting your financial reputation, you should immediately contact Fields Law Firm and ask to speak with a Consumer Law Attorney who will advise you of your legal rights, walk you through the steps that need to be taken to document the crime, prevent future harm, and restore your financial reputation. Furthermore, the Consumer Law Attorneys at
Fields Law Firm are capable of analyzing the facts of your specific case to determine the potential legal claims you may be able to bring against the credit reporting agencies and/or debt collectors for violations of state or federal law stemming from accounts that were opened fraudulently as a result of identity theft. In the event that a credit reporting agency or debt collector has violated state or federal law, you may be entitled to receive statutory damages of $1,000, compensation for your actual damages, and payment of your attorneys’ fees and costs.
If you find yourself a victim of identity theft, Fields Law can help. Call us today for free advice.