CFC Martin Pelmore Dealing with Identity Theft
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have specific rights if you believe you are a victim of identity theft, which may help you recover from identity theft, as summarized here:
You may have nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” in your file to inform creditors and others that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert is supposed to make it more difficult for anyone to get credit under your name, since creditors are supposed to follow additional procedures to protect you. Of course, the same protections may delay you in obtainng credit. Place a fraud alert by calling any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies, which will notify the other two.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; http://www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-397-3742; http://www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; http://www.transunion.com
The initial fraud alert remains on your file for at least 90 days, while an extended alert remains for seven years. For either, you will be required to provide proof of identity, including your Social Security number. For an extended alert, you will need to provide an identity theft report, including a copy of a complait you have filed with a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, as well as other information you may be required to submit.
2. You are entitled to free copies of your credit report, a copy of your file from each of the three nationwide CRAs, and, for an extended alert, one additional copy within a year of placing the alert. Your credit reports are to help you detect signs of fraud, such as new accounts you don’t recognize, or addresses where you’ve never lived. Of course, you are also entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually, and there are other reasons you may get free copies as well.
3. You are entitled to copies of documents relating to fraud on your accounts or using your personal information. Upon written request, businesses must provide copies of applications, receipts, and other records relating to fraud transactions, but you may be required to provide proof of your identity, police reports, or an affidavit. In some limited cases, businesses may refuse your request.
4. You are entitled to information from debt collectors. Debt collectors must provide certain information about debt incurred by fraud, including at least the creditor and the amount.
5. If data in your credit report results from fraud, you are entitled to have the CRA block that information. If you ask a CRA block such information, you must point out what needs to be blocked, provide proof of your identity, and copies identity theft (police) reports. If they refuse or remove a block, they must notify you. Once a debt resulting from fraud is blocked, nobody may sell, transfer, or place such debt for collection.
6. You can prevent businesses from reporting information to CRAs if you believe the information is a result of fraud. Simply send a written request to the address specified by the business reporting the information, but the business will expect you to identify what information you do not want reported and to provide police reports.