Frequently Asked Questions by Victims of Identity Theft
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person's identifying information to fraudulently obtain goods or services. This financial crime leaves the victim to deal with fraudulent accounts and debt collectors. Identity theft can also be used as a technique for stealing government benefits and tax refunds.
What are the warning signs of Identity Theft?
There can be many different warning signs that you have been a victim of identity theft. But here is a list of the most common signs:
- Unfamiliar accounts on your credit report.
- Bills or collection letters for accounts that you do not recognize.
- Call for collection of accounts with creditors you don't known.
- Unfamiliar inquiries into your credit report.
- Credit rejection or approval letters from creditors who you never applied to.
- Major change to your credit score, 10 points or more.
If you have one of these signs and would like help figuring out if you are a victim of identity theft, call now at (888) 400-CREDIT | (888) 400-2733 for a free consultation or contact us now.
What should I do to prevent Identity Theft?
While most identity thefts today occur with the assistance of data stolen from large companies, there are some things you can do to prevent ID theft.
- Don't keep physical copies of bank and credit card statements.
- Invest in a good shredder for your financial documents or locate your local public shredding facility.
- Use a pass word logging program such as LastPass.
- Password protect your computer.
- Encrypt the data on your computer.
- Check your credit reports annually for false or unrecognized data.
- Go paperless.
- Don't send your personal information by email.
- Don't respond to emails from unrecognized sources.
Should I try to find the person who stole my identity?
No, this is not necessary. Many creditors will try to convince victims of identity theft that this is the consumer's responsibility, but there is no legal requirement that a victim track down the person or organization that stole their identity. Most importantly, trying to find the identity thief won't help restore your credit or convince debt collectors to stop calling. ID theft victims should focus on completing an identity theft affidavit, getting legal assistance, and writing quality dispute letters. Lyngklip & Associates provided "self help" and "how to" resources for identity theft victims. If you need help using any of these resources or would like and attorney to provide no-fee services, call us at (888) 400-CREDIT or email us now.
What should I do if my identity has been stolen?
- Set up a folder or directory on your computer where you can store all your materials related to the identity theft.This should include scans of any documents you receive, electronic notices and statements, and any electronic communications like emails, texts, and voice mails.
- Save any documents or electronic communications that you receive relating to the identity theft. Place these in the folder that you set in the step above.
- Place a fraud a fraud alert and security freeze on each of your credit reports with the national credit bureaus.
- Request copies of each of your credit reports.
- Review charges to your existing credit accounts, and cancel any cards that have been compromised.
- Call a qualified identity theft attorney to help you review your credit report and the identity theft. Most qualified credit reporting and identity theft attorneys will not charge to help you review your reports or prepare letters associated with a credit report. Lyngklip & Associates can help to review identity thefts in Michigan. If need help in another state, use the "Find a Lawyer" link on the ConsumerAdvocates.org web site. If you need help finding an attorney in another state, call us at (888) 400-CREDIT | (888) 400-2733 f or contact us now.
What should I do if I get a call from a debt collector asking for payment on a fraud account?
If you are getting calls from debt collectors about accounts that came from identity theft, you should dispute any charges in writing and keep good records of everything you do! After you have completed these steps, you should contact an attorney for help. An attorney can help you find out if there has been any damage to your credit history and whether any other creditors may be pursuing you for fraudulent accounts.
If you continue to see fraudulent accounts on your credit report after settling your identity theft issues, you have not resolved all the issues with your identity theft. Credit bureaus trade and resell the information to each other. False information on your report can appear in other reports and cause you to lose credit opportunities, employment or promotion. Don't hesitate to call an experienced attorney right away if you find false information on your report. Your issue may have not been fully resolved or your identity may have been stolen again.
Should I check my credit reports if I think my identity has been stolen?
Yes! If your identity has been stolen, you should obtain reports from the major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, Innovis and TransUnion. (You can use our free request letters. Do NOT order your credit reports online.) You should closely monitor these reports and dispute any new charges that show up for which you are not responsible. Additionally, many other credit reporting agencies maintain information about you, your banking and your credit history. An attorney will help you identify all the possible sources of false information about you and begin the process of disputing that false information. If you would like to check these on your own, you can see our list of the most important credit reports to check or use one of our self help letters to request these reports.
Should I file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the FTC or CFPB?
If your identity has been stolen you should NOT file an affidavit without the assistance of an attorney. Many identity theft victims file these affidavits before they have all the facts and before they can be sure that they are a victim of identity theft. These prematurely filed reports can come back to bite a victim later once all the facts have surfaced. An attorney will help you gather all the facts and help you to file an affidavit that accurately reflects what happened in your identity theft. Once you have filed an ID theft affidavit, the attorney can use the report to remove false items from your credit reports and stop any collectors from calling.
Should I file a police report?
If your identity has been stolen you should NOT file a police report without the assistance of an attorney. Many identity theft victims file police reports before they have all the facts and before they can be sure that they are a victim of identity theft. These prematurely filed reports can come back to bite a victim later once all the facts have surfaced. An attorney will help you gather all the facts and help you to file a report that accurately reflects what happened in your identity theft. Once you have filed a police report, the attorney can use the report to remove false items from your credit reports and stop any collectors from calling.
What should I do if the police won't take my report?
Don't worry. Federal law allows identity theft victims to use a police report to support claims of identity theft and block false information on their credit reports. But, a police report only one of several tools that identity theft victims can use to help clear their name. The other most common tool is an identity theft affidavit.