If you are the victim of identity theft or fraud, you have the right to place a fraud alert on your consumer files with the 3 national consumer credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. This makes it harder for anyone to use your consumer information through the agencies to open new credit accounts. You can place the fraud alert on your consumer files by contacting one of the three agencies and reporting the fraud and requesting the fraud alert. More information on this process is at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/helpfaq#fraudalert. You are also entitled to a free copy of your consumer file, known as a “consumer disclosure,” after you are the victim of fraud. You can request this at the time you place the fraud alert.
The contact information for placing a fraud alert is:
- Equifax: 1-877-576-5734; www.alerts.equifax.com
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com/fraud
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
If you are a resident of Wisconsin, you may also have the right to place a Security Freeze on your files. See our Blog entry on How to Secure Your Credit Reports After Identity Theft under Wisconsin Law for more information.
David Lazarus, a columnist that writes for the L.A. Times, recently wrote about his own experience with Identity Theft that occurred 15 years ago but still plagues him today. A copy of his article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 4, 2012, is at http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/yourmoney/la-fi-lazarus-20120904,0,3447151,full.column. It’s a familiar tale with victims of identity theft, unfortunately. It’s a good read to understand why it is important to check your own consumer credit reports at least once each year, which you can do for free, and look for any accounts listed that you did not open or on which you are not an account holder.
There are steps you can take too that if done soon enough can prevent many problems that can result with identity theft. If that is a problem for you, we have more information on identity theft on our website, www.celcwi.com.
When someone else is using your social security number for employment purposes, it presents a difficult situation to resolve. While the answer to how to stop this from continuing is not clear, there are some things you can do.
You can contact the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service to notify them of the fraud, as you want to avoid tax liability on this imposter’s wages. Also, the imposter could potentially open credit using your SSN, which would cause you additional problems. So you can contact the consumer reporting agencies to report fraud and ask them to put a fraud alert on your consumer file. Every employer is also required to verify the identity of an employee using a form I-9, which is governed by the Dept. of Homeland Security, formerly the INS, so you could notify the Dept. of Homeland Security. Also, the Federal Trade Commission accepts complaints of identity theft, as they keep a database and cross-reference complaints for potential action. You can attempt to file a police report of the fraud, but the local police department may not accept the report, as many are reluctant to do so if there doesn’t appear to be an economic loss associated with the matter.
Providing the identity of the employers where the fraudster worked and to these agencies may help get some interest going on to investigate to help you find out the identity of the person using the SSN.
The FTC has a very good guide on what to do when your identity has been stolen. Anyone that is victimized by identity theft should review that site and follow its recommendations.
For more information on what you can do, visit our website page on Identity Theft at http://www.celcwi.com/page33.html.
Good news. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, part of the U.S. Department of Treasury, reports after a recent study that conscientious automobile dealer staff and finance companies are helping to reduce fraudulent vehicle loans obtained through identity theft. Although suspected cases of identity theft are on the rise since 2004, fraudulent auto loans due to identity theft appear to be declining significantly. The SCE and attributes the significant decline to the new Red Flag Rules of the Fair Credit Reporting Act to deal with identity theft. The study notes that credit card fraud continues to be the biggest problem in terms of identity theft crimes. The full report is available at www.fincen.gov/news_room/nr/html/20101015.html, and it is titled "Identity Theft-Trends, Patterns, and Typologies Reported in Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) Filed by Depository Institutions."