Online information and monitoring tools like Unmask.com can show you may have been the victim of identity theft, a crime with severe consequences becoming more common in the internet age. Here’s a brief yet in-depth overview of your rights if someone has stolen your identity.
Your first step is to have the Federal Trade Commission to create an ID theft report. You must then place basic or extended fraud alerts on your credit report with respective durations of one and seven years. Obtain a free copy of your credit report as well as copies of all documents related to the crime. Eventually, you will need vital documents replaced.
You can then proceed to dispute false or fraudulent data on your credit report and stop debt collectors and creditors from reporting fraudulent accounts. You can get false data blocked or removed from your credit report and keep debt collectors from contacting you.
Document the Crime
Your FTC ID theft report will prove your identity was stolen and make remedying issues the theft caused easier.
Contact and Cooperate with CRAs
A one-year fraud alert will communicate to creditors that they have to take measures to scrutinize all entities applying for loans in your name. You’ll receive a letter of confirmation from the CRA (credit reporting agency) containing instructions to obtain the free credit report copy.
Send the credit agency a copy of the FTC report, a letter clarifying the false information, and proof of your identity. They will then take steps to remove this information from your report and inform the relevant creditor that your identity was stolen. The creditor will be unable to turn any debt incurred after the crime to collectors.
By placing an extended fraud alert, you are mandating any future creditors to get in touch with you before issuing credit. You need to send a copy of the FTC report to each credit agency. You can also place a security freeze on your report. This will make it near impossible for an unauthorized party to open a credit account using your data.
Communicate with Debt Collectors and Creditors
After you give debt collectors and creditors a copy of the FTC report, they cannot give credit reporting companies fraudulent account data. No debt collector is allowed to contact you after they receive a letter from you telling them to stop. If a collector calls you about debt, ask for written information, including the amount claimed to be owed and the name of the creditor. Don’t forget to collect your mail. As a preventive measure, place a hold on it if you’re going to be away from home.
Limited Liability for Debt Caused by ID Theft
Federal law limits your liability for unauthorized credit card use to $50. You will not lose any money if you report a card as lost or stolen before the thief has had the chance to use it. The liability amounts to $50 if you report theft or loss within two business days of finding out about it. If two business days to 60 calendar days have passed, the liability is $500.
You face unlimited liability if more than two months have passed after the company sent you the statement, which is why it’s important to act swiftly. You are not responsible for unauthorized debits to a credit union or bank account if you report the theft within two months of receiving the statement showing these debits. This applies to withdrawals made using your card number, not the card itself.
Additional Rights by Law
You have the right to be included in public court proceedings under the Justice for All Act. An exception would be if the judge decided your testimony would be altered if you heard other statements. Moreover, you must be reasonably heard in all proceedings involving parole, sentencing, plea, or release of an accused party.