According to the Federal Trade Commission, military families report identity theft at double the rate of civilian families. Falling prey to identity theft can cost the victim significant money, time, and stress. Identity theft can happen when you let your guard down, so it is always best practice to safeguard your Social Security number, military ID, and other sensitive data.
In 2001, the number of reported fraud and identity theft related crimes was 325,519. By 2019, that number increased 1000% to 3.2 million. It can take months or even years to recover from identity theft, so it is best to try and do your best to prevent it. Here are some tips:
- Check your credit report: Federal law allows you to request a free credit report each year from the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. To order a copy of your free credit report, visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com
- Be Protective of your private confidential information: Unless you know who you are dealing with, be very careful about providing your personal information over the phone, on the internet, or through the mail. If you do share your information, ask how it will be used and shared with others.
- Review your bank and credit card statements: Regularly check your monthly bank and credit card statements. If you see anything out of the ordinary, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
- If you are going to be deployed, place an “active duty alert” on your credit reports while you are away, so that any unusual spending during your deployment is monitored.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, you should immediately file a police report, so you can start the dispute process. When filing a police report, it is critical that you bring any documents or other evidence with you to support your identity theft claim.
Once you have a copy of your police report, send a copy to the appropriate business (e.g. creditor, the credit reporting agencies) along with your dispute. Make sure to also include copies of your driver’s license and social security card, and a signature sample. Although this list is not inclusive, you should at the very least include this information as part of your dispute.
You can Fight back Against Identity Theft
The California Identity Theft Act forces creditors and debt collectors to investigate claims of fraud upon receipt of written notice. This powerful law can be used in conjunction with other California and federal consumer protection laws to help consumers exonerate themselves from fraudulent debts and restore their identities.
Having your identity stolen can decimate your finances and credit reputation. Hopefully, the information in this article assures you that you can fight back against fraudsters that have stolen your identity and that you have the weight of the law on your side to take back your reputation.
Many consumers choose not to exercise their consumer rights because they believe that they cannot afford an attorney. The good news is that most consumer protection statutes – including those that apply to identity theft claims – allow the attorney to handle the lawsuit on a contingency basis. This means that the consumer is not responsible for the attorney’s fees or costs at any time.
To get started towards restoring your identity, contact the Consumer Justice Law Center today toll free at 888.488.2552 and tell us your story.