Friday

Fighting Debt Incurred Through Identity Theft

Guest Post by Nadia Jones

There's no getting around how much identity theft sucks. It's deceptive, hard to spot, and it is also hindering the spread of technology. As more information is used and stored online, the threat of identity theft increases exponentially as criminals can access more ways to steal your private information.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year, resulting in $631 off out-of-pocket expenses for victims due to legal fees and misappropriation of their false debt. It can take years before someone realizes they are the victim of identity theft, resulting in months or even years of the victim's time being spent towards repairing their credit worthiness and adjusting their falsely accrued debt. Remember, you are not liable for fraudulent debt resulting from identity theft. Do not pay for a criminal's debt.

Preventing and Detecting Identity Theft

Before explaining how to get rid of your fraudulent debt without having to pay the debt yourself, I think it is extremely important to detail how to prevent identity theft. Since there are so many ways identity thieves can acquire your information, protecting yourself involves a combination of a lot of little things:
  • Shred financial documents
  • Sign the backs of credit cards immediately
  • Don't carry your Social Security number or card with you
  • Don't offer personal information to anyone you don't know or trust
  • Be cautious of links in unsolicited emails
  • Use a variety of secure passwords
  • Keep your personal information locked and secure
  • Report theft or loss of key identification material (passport, license, etc.)
It is also important that you monitor your bank and credit card statements carefully, looking for any unexpected transactions or new accounts made under your name. The same applies to loans and financial aid.

Also, review your credit report annually. You area allowed a free copy of your credit report every twelve months. All you have to do is request it. To order a free annual report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free to 877-322-8228. Otherwise, you can consult a consumer reporting company (like Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) which will charge about $10 for a copy of your report.

Stopping Identity Theft and Fraudulent Debt

Once you realize you are the victim of identity theft, you have to defend your reputation and credit rating by immediately filing a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports and then reviewing your reports carefully. This will alert creditors to raise security measures before opening any more new accounts or making changes to your existing ones. Filing a fraud alert will also get you a free copy of your credit report, so you can look for accounts that you didn't open and debts on accounts that you can't explain. The consumer reporting companies all have toll-free numbers that you can call to place a fraud alert, and you only need to call one:
  • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
After filing a "Fraud Alert" you must do the following:
  • Request for consumer reporting companies to block fraudulent information.
  • Contact the security and fraud departments of companies where an account was opened or charged without your knowledge.

    • Send them copies of supporting documents, including the identity theft affidavit.
    • Ask for verification that the account has been resolved and fraudulent debts discharged.

  • File a police report
  • Report fraud to the FTC
Thankfully, the FTC has a very useful "tools for victims" site that offers sample letters, directions, and even a chart you can print and fill out to remind you what you've done and what you still have left to do.

Author Bio:
Nadia Jones blogs at online school about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @ gmail.com.

12 comments:

creditcardassist said...

I definitely want to get a theft-proof credit card like this. With identity theft running rampant, I just don't feel comfortable about my credit card and social security number being out there. I think extra precautions like this are necessary.

Gary said...

Thanks for the help. I didn't have a problem with identity theft from an unknown source as much as from my son. He's been a bit wayward and took to stealing our credit cards. I need some non profit debt consolidation help now and I don't know where to look. Suggestions?

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bradys bearss said...

Even years of the victim's time getting spent appear acclimation their acclaim ability and adjusting their falsely accrued debt.

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