What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, address, social security number, credit card number, and other personal identifying information to obtain money using your accounts.
How do you know if you have been a victim of identity theft
Here are some of the indications you have been a victim of identity theft:
- Unknown accounts appear on your credit report
- Mail arrives at your address with someone else’s name as the addressee
- The “inquiry” section of your credit report lists names of creditors you do not recognize
- You get notices from debt collectors for debts you did not incur
What to do if you are a victim of identity theft
If your credit reports show accounts or inquiries you don’t recognize, you should send dispute letters to the credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.
If you are getting mail from a debt collector, send a letter to the debt collector asking it to verify the debt. The debt collector will respond with the name of the creditor that assigned or sold the debt to it. If you don’t believe you owe the money, send another letter to the debt collector stating the account does not belong to you. At the same time, you should send dispute letters to the credit reporting agencies disputing the debt collector’s credit reports.
If you are convinced you are the victim of identity theft, be sure to get a police report from the local police. Send copies of the police report with your dispute letters to the credit reporting agencies.
If all else fails, contact our office. You have a right to sue the credit reporting agencies for failure to delete credit information on your credit reports that is a result of identity theft.
How identity thieves operate
Identity thieves steal personal identifying information by hacking into computers, by stealing employers’ records, and even breaking into cars or homes to steal information. They also steal mail that contains personal and credit information. They scam consumers on the Internet into giving them personal identify information.
Once the thieves get personal information and access to your accounts, they quickly buy merchandise such as cell phones. They get cash advances, etc. Some even get auto loans.