Someone stole my identity! How do I get the fraudulent accounts off my credit report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (known as “FCRA”) requires that consumer reporting agencies, or “CRAs,” block from your files any information resulting from identity theft. This includes fraudulent accounts, false names, false addresses, and the like. To get a fraud block in place, you must send the CRA documentation. Your documents must include (1) proof of identity; (2) an “identity theft report”; (3) a list of the fraudulent information; and (4) a statement that the fraudulent information does not relate to any transaction of yours.
Proof of identity ideally includes your full name, full Social Security Number, date of birth, and full current address. Copies of a driver’s license, Social Security card, and current utility bill in your name should, all together, be adequate. If you have changed addresses recently, also provide proof of the recent prior address.
To obtain an “identity theft report,” report the identity theft to police. Give them a list of the fraudulent accounts and request an investigation. The resultant police report listing the accounts will likely suffice as an “identity theft report.”
Sign an identity theft affidavit that lists the fraudulent information that needs to be blocked. In the affidavit, you should also state that the information is unrelated to your transactions. The FTC publishes a form affidavit that you can use: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0094-identity-theft-affidavit.pdf.
Now, write a cover letter requesting a fraud block. Send it and your documents to each CRA that is reporting fraudulent information. Use Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, and keep copies of what you sent! The CRA must block identified information within four business days. If it declines your request, it must tell you why within five business days. In that event, contact a consumer lawyer for additional advice specific to your situation.
Blog author Suzanne Begnoche practices in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and represents consumers with issues in the following areas of law: Collection harassment; Credit reporting; Identity theft or other financial fraud; Security breach; Debt collection lawsuit and Post-judgment exemption processes. For more information, visit http://www.begnochelaw.com/.