If you have become a victim of identity theft, it is imperative to act immediately to stop any further fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, resolving the unauthorized use of personal information falls on the victim. It is a long, but necessary process which unfortunately may include unfair or deceptive tactics on the part of creditors and/or debt collectors who continue to attempt to collect debts incurred by the identity thief. If you have been the victim of identity theft and are being harassed or otherwise unlawfully treated by creditors, California identity theft lawyer lawyer Howard D. Silver can help.
Your Identity Was Stolen, Now What?
It’s easy to say that an identity theft victim must act immediately after discovering that their identity was stolen, but what should be done? Although what you do may depend on the type of identity theft involved, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) victims should do the following:
- Analyze and place a "Fraud Alert" on all your credit reports.
- File a police report, providing as much documented evidence as possible, to establish proof of the theft. The information may be requested by creditors.
- Report the identity theft to the FTC.
- Contact the fraud/security department of each company where there was unauthorized activity and report the identity theft. Follow up in writing and ask for verification that the fraudulent activity/debts have been resolved and discharged.
- Cancel stolen credit card accounts and obtain new ones with replacement cards. Ask that the old accounts be labeled "account closed at consumer's request."
- Notify your bank/financial institution if the fraudulent activity involves bank accounts or stolen checks. Cancel compromised accounts and open new ones.
- Creditors and/or banks may require you to fill out and notarize fraud affidavits, which can be expensive. Notarization is not required by law. If your creditors are subjecting you to excessively burdensome requirements, report them to federal authorities.
- Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and report the theft/fraudulent use of your social security number.
- Warn your electric, water, and gas companies of the theft and potential fraudulent activity.
- Change your driver's license number and/or place a fraud alert on your DMV records.
- Consult with a lawyer to determine whether legal action should be taken against uncooperative creditors and/or credit bureaus.
- Never pay any portion of a debt or bill resulting from identity theft. If any financial institution, merchant, or collection agency threatens legal action against you, consult immediately with an attorney.
Dedicated to Consumer Protection
Identity theft is a recognized crime and a widespread problem, but this will not stop merchants, financial institutions, and/or creditors from trying to coerce an identity theft victim into paying all or part of the fraudulent debt. Such actions are against both federal and California law. Holding creditors and debt collectors civilly liable for unfair, unlawful or deceptive collection tactics can ensure that the victim can eliminate the fraudulent debt from their life and sometimes receive compensation for damages, attorney fees and other costs. If your identity was stolen and fraudulent claims are being unlawfully pursued by creditors, you can fight id theft by contacting Los Angeles identity theft attorney Howard D. Silver for a free consultation at (855) 341-2611.