Dealing with Identity Theft

Categories :: Consumer > Identity Theft

Introduction

What is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft is the largest consumer complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) annually.  If you have been the victim of identity theft, it could mean someone has used your name to:

  • make purchases,
  • get credit cards
  • rent an apartment or
  • obtain utilities without your permission.

In some cases, thieves may have received medical services in your name, re-routed your tax refund, or even impersonated you during contact with law enforcement.

Identity theft may also include someone using checks on your account. This could be from stealing your checkbook or electronically obtaining access to your checking account. Use of an ATM card or credit card that you did not approve is also identity theft.

In some cases, identity theft occurs within families to children, seniors, and domestic violence survivors, making reporting and recovery especially difficult.

How Might it Impact Me?

Even if you are able to resolve a financial identity theft issue with your bank, this use of your name and credit history can result in you getting collection letters for things you did not purchase. 

It can also result in unfavorable entries on your credit report, causing you problems in getting credit or paying a higher interest rate.

Becoming the victim of an identity theft can be a complicated and frustrating time in your life.

What Can I Do?

Federal Resources

The Federal Trade Commission has created sample letters that consumers can use to notify a debt collector or credit bureau of the theft of your identity. 

To use the letters, you must first report the crime of identity theft to the police.  You do not need to know the name of the person who used your identity. You show the police the debt collection letters or other confirmation that you are the victim of this crime. 

The three forms below use the FTC-created material.

You can also visit the National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network to learn more.

Before You Begin:

  • The information provided and the interactive interviews will give you legal information, not legal advice.
  • These forms are not for commercial use and charging for use in any way is prohibited.
  • If you do not already have it, you will need to download free Adobe Flash Player to view the interactive interviews.
  • If you do not have Microsoft Word, you will need to download free Microsoft Word Viewer to print the forms.
  • This material was produced in part by the Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center, Inc. under award #2010-VF-GX-K030, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, these materials including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided.

For more information on the project or regarding identity theft, you can go to identitytheftnetwork.org

Letter to Creditor 

To use the interactive interview for responding to someone collecting a bill that is in your name, but a bill you did not authorize, you will need a copy of the bill in hand when you start the interview. 

You will also need to provide a copy of your proof of your identity. 

Click below to use the interactive interview for a Letter to a Creditor, directly collecting their own bill.  This might be a credit card statement you received that contains charges you didn’t make or authorize.  It can be any situation where your credit or identity was used without your permission.

Letter to Creditor – Identity Theft

Letter to Debt Collector

To use the interactive interview for responding to a company or law firm that is a Debt Collector, or collecting a bill that is in your name but you did not authorize, you will need a copy of their letter in hand when you start the interview. 

You will also need to provide a copy of your police report and proof of your identity, by copying these and putting them in the letter.  Click below to use the interactive interview for a Letter to Debt Collector.

Letter to Debt Collector – Identity Theft

Letter to Credit Bureau

To use the interactive interview to create a letter to a Credit Bureau, seeking investigation and removal from your credit report of items that are the result of identity theft, you will need a copy of your credit report in hand when you start the interview. 

You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each credit bureau here. You do not have to pay for a copy of your credit report.  One credit report from each company is available to you free each year. 

You will mail the letter and attachment, a copy of your credit report with the incorrect items circled, a copy of the police report you made of the identity theft and proof of your identity with the letter. 

Click below to use the interactive interview for a Letter to a Credit Bureau.

Letter to Credit Bureau – Identity Theft

Maryland Resources

Obtain an Identity Theft Passport

The Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit has tools available to help victims of identity theft address their problems, and to help all consumers protect themselves from identity thieves.  One of the tools offered is an Identity Theft Passport.  You may apply for an identity theft passport, which can be presented to law enforcement to help prevent arrest or detention for an offense committed by another person using the person’s personal identifying information. It may also be presented to a creditor to aid in the investigation of a fraudulent accounts or charges.

File a police report

Identity theft is a crime (See: Md. Code, Criminal Law, §8-301).  If you know or reasonably suspect that you have been a a victim of identity fraud you may contact a local law enforcement agency in the county where you live or where the crime occured to file a report. Md. Code, Criminal Law, §8-304

Place a security freeze

All Maryland consumers are allowed to place security freezes on their consumer credit reports to prevent new accounts from being opened in their names. Such a freeze enables the consumer to prevent anyone from looking at his/her credit file for the purpose of granting credit unless the consumer chooses to allow a particular business look at the information. Md. Code, Commercial Law, §14-1212.1

Source: 

Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc. edited by Rene LaVigne
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”