4 simple steps to fixing your ID theft credit report problems
ID theft can be very frustrating and people will struggle with fixing it for years. Actually, you can fix it very quickly if you will follow these four steps.
The four steps
- Fill out an ID theft affidavit
- Get a police report
- Send a dispute letter
- If not fixed, then sue in federal court
Step one — ID theft affidavit
Fill out an ID theft affidavit which you can get from the FTC here. This is a sworn statement that says you did not take out the account or have someone else open the account. You need to fill it out as completely as you can which leads you to step number two . . . .
Step two — the police report
Get a police report. Make it easy for the police to document what the bogus account is by taking your paperwork and being organized. Clearly explain what account is not yours, the account number, and show the office the collection letters or your credit report or whatever you have showing the account. This lets the police put something like this in the report:
Victim claims the Capital One Account #123456789 is not victim’s and this is a result of ID theft.
Get a copy of the report and then you will be ready for step number three . . . .
Step three — dispute letter
This is the one most people mess up. They try to get “cheap” and save a letter by only sending a dispute letter to the creditor or collector.
That’s fine and you should send one to the creditor or collector. BUT you MUST send one to the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion).
And you MUST send it by certified mail.
Attach the ID theft affidavit and police report. ID yourself and the account and ask that it be deleted. Usually enclose driver’s license and a recent utility bill or bank statement. Keep a signed copy.
And I mean a signed copy of your letter with all attachments. When the green cards come back, staple those to your copies (scan everything first).
Now you have finished the first three steps, you simply wait till the credit reporting agencies send you the results of investigation in about 30 days or so from receipt of your dispute letter package.
Step four — sue if it is not fixed
If the results of the investigation show the ID theft is fixed, then great! Problem solved.
If the bogus account stays on there, then often the appropriate response is to sue under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) for money damages. This normally results in the bogus account being removed very quickly as the credit reporting agencies and creditors/collectors don’t want to stand in front of a jury trying to explain why they won’t fix ID theft.
What is the domestic policy and why will that hurt me?
This is an unwritten policy that if it is a family member or someone in your household who stole your identity, then the creditor will take the position that you are responsible since it was your family, roommate, etc.
This is not the law.
You must (if you want us to ever consider representing you) agree to prosecute which takes away the silly argument you were in on it.
But sometimes the creditors will stay say you are responsible and the credit reporting agencies are so weak minded that will do anything the creditors tell them to do . . . . so if the creditor says keep it, the agencies will keep it.
How does suing for money damages help?
Now when you sue, that gets everyone’s attention. We have settled these cases well into six figures in money damages — that’s how dangerous these cases are but the creditors don’t believe you will actually sue.
Prove them wrong.
Sue them and make them pay a lot of money.
That will fix the problem of ID theft.
If you have questions about your options when facing ID theft or other credit reporting errors, please feel free to get in touch with us by calling us at 205-879-2447 or contacting us through our website.
John G. Watts
Watts & Herring, LLC
Birmingham and Madison Offices in Alabama
We represent consumers all over Alabama