What do I do if my identity has been stolen? It’s a scary thought when it crosses anyone’s mind. When someone steals your identity, it’s usually with bad intentions. The thieves can use your credit card to make large purchases in your name or to sell your information to buyers.
To help consumers recover from the attack, the government has passed a federal law called Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). As the name suggests, the FCRA promotes fairness, accuracy, and privacy of all consumer information within the files of credit reporting agencies (CRAs).
Under this Act, consumers can dispute any wrong information, such as identity theft, that appears on their credit report. The CRAs will then conduct investigation regarding the dispute and correct all items that prove to be incorrect.
ID Theft Examples
There are variety forms of identity theft that can happen to anyone. Whenever any of these forms of identity theft occurs, it is a good idea to notify the credit reporting agencies (CRAs) so they can block your credit report from further criminal actions and to dispute the error.
Identity theft can lead to undesirable consequences if left unchecked. Here are some ID theft examples:
- Accounts (credit card, telephone, bank, Internet payment, auto, personal, or student loan)
- Mortgage fraud
- Medical identity theft
- Criminal identity theft
- Child identity theft
There are two basic forms of account fraud: misconduct using existing accounts or new accounts. The most commonly misused existing account is credit card accounts (credit card fraud). The thieves usually steal other existing credit accounts to make purchases. With the technology available today, it is becoming easier to steal other people’s information. Be wary when swiping cards and inputting your PIN combination.
Child Identity Theft
Child identity theft occurs when a thief uses a child’s information to commit fraud. Most parents won’t suspect their children even having a credit file, let alone be used by a thief. It won’t hurt to check your child’s credit report once just to see if anything suspicious is going on. Otherwise, the child will discover the theft years later when applying for a loan or job.
Criminal Identity Theft
Criminal identity theft occurs when the thief gives out another person’s name and information when being questioned or arrested by a law enforcement officer. The information given may be from your driver’s license, date of birth, or Social Security Number (SSN). The victims may find out about this theft when they suddenly get arrested or fired.
Medical Identity Theft
Medical identity theft occurs when the thief uses the victim’s name or health insurance numbers to see a doctor, obtain prescription drugs, file a claim with an insurance provider, or get other cares. The victim’s treatment, insurance records, payment records, and credit report may be affected when the thief’s information is mixed with the victim’s.
Mortgage Fraud Theft
Mortgage fraud theft occurs when the thief uses someone else’s identity to obtain a mortgage. In a “house stealing” fraud, the thieves target an occupied home, assume the owner’s identity, and transfer the deed to the thief’s name so that the house’s ownership changes.
How to Report Identity Theft
There are two ways for a consumer to report identity theft. They can either report it to have their credit report blocked or dispute it to have the errors corrected or taken off their report.
Blocking Information in Credit Reports
Under the FCRA, credit reporting agencies and the furnishers are responsible for blocking fraudulent information from appearing in victims’ credit reports. If you believe that you have been a victim of an identity theft, you can report the fraud to have them block fraudulent trade lines and other inaccurate information that result from identity theft appearing on your credit report.
Disputing Errors in Credit Reports
When you dispute inaccurate information on your credit report, you must list them so in a credit dispute letter and send it to the credit reporting agencies. Once they receive your dispute letter, they must conduct an investigation and correct the disputed items if they deem them as incorrect or inaccurate. If they consider the dispute frivolous, they are not required to conduct an investigation.
Protect Your Identity – Contact An FCRA Attorney
If someone has attacked your identity and you are not fully sure on what to do, speaking to an FCRA attorney may help. An attorney can give you legal advice on your next steps. If you need help on either composing a credit dispute letter or filing a lawsuit if the CRA ignores or refuses to investigate.