If you have had your identity stolen, you have a number of legal rights when it comes to dealing with the issue and getting the flow on effects resolved. In this article, we’ll take a look at these so that you know where you stand if indeed you do get your identity stolen in the future.
If you have recently discovered that you are the victim of identity theft, take a look at the following checklist of things to do. Make sure you do each and every one of these as soon as possible to minimize the risk of collateral damage to your future finances.
This is a simple checklist of the things you should do at the first hint of identity theft. If you are not entirely sure whether your details have been stolen or not, the best thing to do is to complete step 2 anyway, so that you will know whether or not you have become a victim in the future.
So, what are your rights when it comes to dealing with personal ID theft? Let’s take a look.
As a consumer, you are entitled to receive a free copy of each of your credit reports each year. If you declare that you are the victim of identity theft, you are also entitles to two more copies of the reports in a single year.
Hence, it pays to have an identity theft alert put on your account if you think you are at risk. The extra allowance for free copies of your credit reports are so that you are able to monitor what turns up on your history.
If you notice something out of the ordinary, you obviously need to contact your credit reporting agency and let them know the specifics of the issue. They will most likely require that you fill in a form and submit it with the relevant details of the problem – so that they can investigate.
If you have suffered from the loss of your identity, you have the right to have a “fraud alert” put on your credit report, which will be visible to all parties which look at your report. Essentially, this gives future potential creditors a heads up that your record may have inconsistent entries made – perhaps even a few defaults, which were not as a result of your actions.
The process of getting a fraud alert on your credit report is relatively simple, however there is a level of proof required.
If accounts have been opened in your name without you knowing, you have the right to see all of the documentation relating to these accounts. This should help you to build a case against what has happened, and therefore eventually lead to your success in getting the entries removed from your credit report.
This right literally applies to any account or facility, whether it is with a utility company or even a bank in another country. Documents must be provided on your request.
You have an absolute right to have any fraudulent information listed on your credit report at the moment – removed from the report entirely in the future. Obviously, you will need to prove that you were not the one who made the entry. If you provide satisfactory proof, you should be able to get the credit reporting agencies to remove the offending information within 90 days.
Remember, credit reporting agencies also conduct their own investigations in to credit report fraud and identity theft, so this is why there is such a long waiting period of 90 days. The sheer number of requests for investigations means that the time taken to get to your case may be weeks rather than days.
Even though you have the right to have information removed from your credit history and report, the law goes one step further. It states that any fraudulent transactions cannot be passed on to potential creditors, as this would give them an unfair view of your financial situation.
Hence, once a transaction or entry is identified and confirmed as being fraudulent, it should be removed by the credit reporting agency at the earliest possible time, so that it is not seen by future businesses and potential creditors.
Essentially these are your rights as a consumer. No matter who you are, we all have the same rights when it comes to reporting and dealing with identity theft. These rights are in place to protect us, and you shouldn’t feel that you cannot speak up and ask for a document, or ask for your credit reporting agency to take action – because they are required by law to provide these services.
At the end of the day, if you feel that your rights have been impinged upon, you are able to take up a case with the Consumer Bureau, or even the FTC if you feel that you have been significantly disadvantaged by the inaction or a third party.
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