ARE YOU THE VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT?
IT'S NOT YOUR DEBT!
Have you been denied credit because there is something on your credit report that you do not recognize? It’s literally not your account?
Have you gone to annualcreditreport.com or some other site to find that accounts that you absolutely do not recognize?
Most likely one of two things is happening:
I. IDENTITY THEFT
You are the victim of identity theft and someone has managed to obtain some of your personal identifying information. They have then used that information to obtain credit and open accounts in your name for their own benefit. It’s rare that they would pay back that debt. In the event you find this you need to do several things
- Go to the Federal Trade Commission Website FTC.gov. They have a wealth of information on what to do, none the least of which is to execute an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. Make sure that you list all suspected accounts and other pertinent information.
- Get a police report.
- Contact the credit bureaus and initiate fraud alerts. Then they will contact you any time someone attempts to open credit in your name. I would do it with each of the three major credit bureaus (Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax).
- Call me so that I may assist you in disputing the incorrect or fraudulent charges. In the event that a dispute or series of disputes does not solve the problem we may need to bring a laws suit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. I will need both the police report and the Federal Trade Commission Affidavit, as well as any supporting documentation that you may have.
II. MERGED FILE
A Merged File is when someone else’s credit trade line ends up on your report. It’s basically accurate information but it’s in the wrong place. This happens a lot with common names, especially when they are related.
A lot of times here the first thing to do is to communicate with the creditor directly to get as much information about the account as possible. Once you can identify the account it may be easier to demonstrate that it’s not your account.
In one real world example my client, who lived in this area, was able to ascertain that the unpaid cable TV bill on her credit report was from an account in Chicago. We submitted the initial dispute letter demonstrating that she lived in the D/FW area for all relevant times and they quickly deleted the inaccurate negative trade line.
In another real world example my client was denied credit because an Equifax Credit Report showed him to be in an active Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The file number listed on the credit report turned out to be the case number for the Bankruptcy that I had filed for his father. They had the same first and last name as well as the same address but different middle names not to mention dates of birth. One dispute letter solved that problem.
Just one more real world example had a client not recognize a charge on his credit but by his investigation he was ultimately able to figure out what the charge was and that it was in fact legitimate. He then sent a check to the creditor and the problem was solved.
Once you have figured out that you are in fact a victim of identity theft or a merged file the next step is to submit a dispute with each credit bureau that is displaying the inaccurate information. I prefer to send disputes via certified mail/return receipt requested. This way you create a paper trail. Dispute letters should contain enough information about you so that the bureau and creditor can completely identify you. In every dispute letter that I draft I include the client’s name, address, date of birth, full Texas drivers license number, and full social security number so that they should have no trouble identifying my client. Then in the narrative I explain in detail why the report is inaccurate. I also include any and all documents that support our contention that the trade line is incorrect.
Should you suspect that you are the victim of identity theft or a merged file please contact me ASAP to set up a free consultation. My office number is 817 738 1633.