Identify Theft, FCRA and FDCPA
You may never think that identity theft could happen to you, so the consequences may blindside you when you least expect it. If you catch this form of fraud early, it’s possible to minimize the implications. However, the damage to your credit, financial situation, and life can be extreme under any identity theft situation. Fortunately, there are laws that protect your interests, while also providing legal options for cleaning up the mess created by a fraudster. Retaining experienced legal counsel is essential to getting your life back and repairing the harm to your financial reputation.
At the Law Offices of Julie A. Rice, we know how frustrating it can be to suffer the consequences of identity theft through no fault of your own. We can assist with your legal remedies to limit the implications and prevent the issue from affecting your financial future. Please contact us to set up a case assessment with an Atlanta, GA identity theft attorney. You may also find it helpful to review some background information regarding identity theft and the relevant laws.
Summary of the FDCPA and Its Application to Identity Theft
All forms of fraud are criminal in nature, including identity theft. Still, you could be on the hook for debt and other legal obligations even if authorities pursue charges against the perpetrators. It’s your personal information, Social Security number, and credit history that are at issue. Others may access these details for financial gain in one of two ways:
- Using your existing credit, checking, savings, or other bank accounts; or,
- Using your personal data to open new accounts and/or lines of credit.
Creditors and collection agencies are sure to come calling if your details were used in connection with financial transactions under either of these scenarios. Your assertions that someone stole your identity will likely not be enough to convince them to cease.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was intended to protect your interests in such a situation, as well as many other circumstances. Generally, the law prohibits collection agencies from engaging in harassment and extreme measures when trying to get consumers to pay a debt. The original creditor isn’t required to comply with FDCPA, but any agency must abide by such rules as:
- Not calling during off hours;
- Avoiding calls at the debtor’s place of employment, after he or she has made such a request;
- Sending required notices and information to the debtor; and,
- Many others.
In addition, FDCPA also includes protections regarding victims of identity theft, providing them with legal options and tools to take back their lives.
Strategies for Countering Identity Theft and Other Forms of Fraud
As the victim of identity theft, you’re concerned with three goals:
- Preventing further fraud;
- Correcting any errors that show up on your credit report and affect your credit rating; and,
- Proving the facts regarding identity theft, so you won’t be held responsible for debts and legal obligations incurred through use of your personal information.
By filing documents with the Federal Trade Commission, State of Georgia agencies, and all credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax), you can implement a credit alert to prevent additional accounts from being opened in your name. For points #2 and #3, you’ll need to take other action to protect your credit rating and avoid being held accountable for debts you didn’t incur. The FDCPA enters the picture because of the limitations on debt collectors.
For instance, within five days after a collection agency first contacts the debtor, it must send designated paperwork regarding the debt. If the debtor disputes some or all of the amount due – in writing and within 30 days after the initial communication – the debt collector must cease attempts to collect payment. There’s an exception where the collection agency sends a verification of the debt, which could provide evidence for the victim of identity theft.
Still, there is additional action to take to remove the matter from your credit report and eliminate the financial obligation that’s in your name. You’ll need to work with various government agencies and submit documentation regarding the fraud. An identity theft affidavit is a sworn statement where you attest to the facts about your stolen personal information. With a police report and other supporting paperwork, you may have sufficient proof to clear the matter from your record entirely.
Talk to an Atlanta, GA Lawyer About Your Rights as the Victim of Identity Theft
Identity theft can be a nightmare, but there are strategies for reducing the adverse consequences of fraudulent activity. The key is retaining a knowledgeable attorney who can obtain the best possible result, using all available tools under the FDCPA and other laws. To learn more about your remedies, please contact the Law Offices of Julie A. Rice to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.