The Identity Theft Problem
According to the U.S. Department of Justice an estimated 17,600,000 Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014 alone. I hope that you were not one of them. But, how would you know.
45% of those people became aware of the identity theft when contacted by their financial institution. 18% only found out when they noticed fraudulent charges on their monthly statements. The identity theft problem is growing and by taking reasonable precautions and educating yourself it can be slowed down. You need to know your rights and liabilities.
The first post in this series dealt with detecting and reporting identity theft. You can find that at http://lowertownstpaulmn.com/2016/08/identity-theft/
If someone is using your information to open new accounts or make purchases, report it and get help. Remember that https://identitytheft.gov is the only official federal site to report identity theft and it also has a lot of additional information for you.
Know Your Rights
I think that it’s very important that you know your rights you have under both federal and state laws. By promptly reporting and following the procedures outlined on the FTC website you will minimize the financial losses and the legal hassle.
Here is a quick overview:
- You have the right to create an identity theft report. This is the combination of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and the local law enforcement report. It is very important to have both documents.
- You have the right to place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report at no cost. By reporting to one of the 3 credit reporting companies, that company must notify the others.
- You have the right to place a seven-year extended fraud alert on your credit report at little or no cost to you. This must be done by filing copies of your identity theft report individually with each of the 3 credit reporting companies.
- You have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the 3 main credit reporting companies. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- You have the right get fraudulent information removed (or “blocked”) from your credit report by filing copies of your identity theft report individually with each of the 3 credit reporting companies.
- You have the right to dispute fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit report.
- You have the right to stop creditors and debt collectors from reporting fraudulent accounts.
- You have the right to get copies of documents related to the identity theft from the credit reporting companies and local law enforcement.
- You have the right to stop a debt collector from contacting you by written notification.
Your Financial Loss Limits
You have limited liability for fraudulent debts caused by identity theft if you have followed the procedures for prompt reporting of the identity theft to the proper authorities.
You are not responsible for any debt incurred on fraudulently obtained new accounts under most state laws.
Under federal law, the amount you are responsible for an unauthorized use of your credit card is $50 if reported promptly. If you report the loss before any fraudulent charges are made against the credit card, your liability is $0.00.
ATM and Debit Cards
The laws treat your ATM or debit cards differently from credit cards mainly by the promptness of your reporting.
If you report the loss or theft of your ATM or debit card before any fraudulent charges are made you have no liability.
If you report within 2 business days of learning of the loss or theft your liability is a maximum of $50.00.
If you report more than 2 business days after you learn of the theft or loss, but less than 60 calendar days after receiving your statement, your maximum liability is $500.00.
The worst case is reporting more than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent, when you can possibly have unlimited liability.
After getting this far in my research and writing, I have found more subjects that need clarification. At least for me. I will be working on this area of Frauds Against Seniors and posting the results weekly.
Subjects that will be posted include: Credit Monitoring. Identity Theft Fraud insurance along with looking into the many frauds that are being perpetrated against us, the Seniors.
These posts draw heavily on materials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber/identity-theft and the Federal Trade Commission https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft . They are the 2 primary federal agencies concerned with Identity Theft.