Laws on Identity Theft

Laws on Identity TheftHere is a brief summary of laws on identity theft that will help you deal with the effects of identity theft. If you are, or believe that you are the victim of identity theft, you have specific rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

 

  1. You have the right to place “fraud alerts” in your file at the 3 major credit bureaus
    Placing a fraud alert in your credit report alerts potential creditors that you may have been a victim of identity theft. Any potential creditor that encounters a fraud alert should follow certain procedures to protect you, making it hard for identity thieves to obtain credit in your name.

    If you believe that you may have been a victim of identity theft you can place an Initial Fraud Alert for 90 days. If you’ve already been victimized, you can put an Extended Fraud Alert that lasts 7 years (See Credit Fraud Alerts for more information).

    Active duty military personnel serving away from their regular duty station may place Active Duty Alerts to help prevent identity theft while they’re away.




  2. You have a right for free copies of your credit report
    An Extended Fraud Alert entitles you for additional two free credit reports from each of the 3 major credit bureaus every 12 months, on top of every other free credit reports you’re entitled to (including your Free Annual Credit Report).

    An Initial Fraud alert entitles you with one additional Free Credit Report.
  3. You have the right to obtain any document related to fraudulent transaction or accounts opened using your personal information
    Any creditor or other business entity must provide you copies of applications or any other documents related to transactions or accounts related to your identity theft upon receiving a written request from you. You may be asked to provide a proof of identity, a copy of the police report you filed or an affidavit before providing you the documents. 
  4. You have the right to obtain information from debt collectors
    A debt collector must provide you certain information about debts you believe were incurred in your name by an identity thieve.
  5. You have a right to block access to information you believe doesn’t belong to you, and resulted from an identity theft
    An identity thief may run up bills in your name and not pay them. Information about the unpaid bills, defaulted credit cards and loans may appear on your credit report. You have the right to ask the credit bureaus not to report this information to potential lenders and creditors.

    Should you decide to ask a credit bureau to block the reporting of this information, you must identity the information you want to block, and provide the credit bureaus with proof of your identity and a copy of your identity theft report.

    The credit bureaus can refuse your request for a block for various reasons (e.g. you fail to provide the necessary documentation, or because the block results from an error or a material misrepresentation of fact made by you). If the credit bureau declines or rescinds the block, it must notify you.

    Once a debt resulting from identity theft has been blocked, a person or business with notice of the block may not sell, transfer or place the debt for collection.

  6. You have a right to block access of potential creditors and lenders to your credit report

    Credit freeze, also known as security freeze or credit lock enables you to block access of potential lenders to your credit reports and scores. It is one of the most effective ways to prevent identity theft.

    Since lenders will usually require access to your credit report before issuing a loan in your name, locking your credit reports at the 3 major credit bureaus effectively stops the process of issuing new credit and opening new accounts in your name (See Credit Freeze for more information).

  7. You have a right to prevent businesses from reporting information that results from identity theft to the credit bureaus

    If you have been victimized, you have the right to ask a business not to report details to the credit bureaus about an account that was opened in your name but doesn’t belong to you.

    To do so, you must send written request to the address specified by the business that reports the information. Include a copy of the identity theft report, and clearly identify what information you want to stop them reporting.


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