Identity Theft Protection
FRAUD VICTIMS' RIGHTS
If you’ve been victimized by identity theft, you need to know your rights. After all, rectifying the problem can be a daunting task, so knowing how to legally resolve the matter is critical.
Here’s an ID theft hit list of things to do if you’ve become a victim:
- Notify all 3 credit bureaus.
- Monitor your credit reports (If you need instant online credit monitoring).
- Notify state or federal law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission.
- Contact creditors for the fraudulent accounts and complete the appropriate affidavits.
- Report the fraudulent activity to the credit card companies.
- Provide your FTC affidavit to any debt collectors involved.
- If victimized by check fraud, report the criminal activity to your bank and to ChexSystems, a check fraud reporting agency.
- If your ATM card has been stolen, contact your bank and report it immediately. Also, fill out a fraud affidavit. Get a new card, account number, and password.
- If you have been victimized by mail fraud, notify the local Postal Inspector. This applies to unauthorized address changes or mail theft.
- If your Social Security number has been compromised, you can contact the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General and report the crime.
- Contact your local, long distance and cellular telephone companies if someone has gained control over your phone accounts.
- Change your driver's license number if someone is using yours as a form of false identification.
Your rights as a victim of ID Theft
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft (or you believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft), you can rest assured that you have rights. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you specific rights as an identity fraud victim. Here is a summary of some of those rights:
- You have the right to free copies of your credit report. An initial identity theft alert entitles you to a copy of your credit report so you can review all the information in your file at each of the three credit reporting agencies. As an identity fraud victim you are also entitled to two free credit reports in the 12 months following your identity theft alert. These credit reports will help you determine whether an identity thief has reported a change in your address or committed bank identity theft and opened new accounts in your name. For more information on your right to a free credit report as a victim of identity theft, go to www.ftc.gov/credit.
- You have the right to request that the three credit reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” or “identity theft alerts” on your credit file. An identity theft alert will let potential creditors know that you may be a victim of identity theft. Identity theft alerts make it more difficult for someone committing ID fraud to get credit in your name. In other words, it gives you extra protection against identity theft. You can place an identity theft alert on your credit file simply by calling each of the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax (1-800-525-6285), Experian (1-888-EXPERIAN), and TransUnion (1-800-680-7289).
- You have the right to any documents relating to credit fraud activities on your accounts or accounts opened in your name during bank identity theft. If an identity thief committed bank identity theft or credit fraud by opening fraudulent accounts in your name, you are entitled to view all documents pertaining to those accounts. So the business or lender knows that you yourself are not trying to commit identity theft, you will have to provide proof of your identity, a police report documenting your identity theft case, and an affidavit before you receive the documents. For more information, go to www.consumer.gov/ncpw/category/identity-theft-privacy/.
- You have the right to obtain information regarding your stolen identity from a debt collector. You have the right to look at any identity theft information you believe was used by an identity thief to incur debt in your name, including the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.
- If you believe some of the information in your credit report is the result of consumer fraud, identity theft on the internet, or another type of identity theft, you have the right to ask a consumer reporting agency to block that identity fraud information from your file. Someone who commits identity theft will be likely to accumulate bills in your name and then refuse to pay them. When you ask a consumer credit reporting agency to block this credit fraud information, you must identify the information that has resulted from financial fraud and provide proof of your identity and a copy of your ID theft report. If you don’t provide the necessary proof of your identity theft charge, or if the credit reporting agency suspects the supposed ID fraud information came from you, they can refuse the block. If they refuse to block the financial fraud information, they must let you know. If they OK the block, no business with notice of the consumer fraud block may sell, transfer, or try to collect the debt.
- If you believe any financial information about you is the result of consumer fraud, you have the right to prevent businesses from reporting that information to consumer reporting agencies. To block the identity fraud information, send the request to the businesses handling the information you think resulted from financial fraud. The business will expect you to provide proof of the identity theft charge as well as an identity theft report. To learn more about your rights as a victim of identity theft, go to www.consumer.gov/ncpw/category/identity-theft-privacy/ or contact the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).
For more information on how to get help if you have been the victim of identity theft or for protection against identity theft in the future, you can hire an identity theft expert to provide an identity theft protection service online. To receive instant identity theft alerts via email regarding any suspicious activity on your account and to instantly activate your online identity theft protection, go to www.creditreport.com/creditmonitoring now.