Identity theft can be overwhelming. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, such as your name, social security number, date of birth, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. Your identity may have been stolen by a family member, by a complete stranger, or as part of a data breach. Many times, you may not even know exactly who stole your identity, but you may realize that you are the victim of identity theft only after seeing that your credit reports show that “someone” has opened items which are “not yours.” You may only realize you are the victim of identity theft after receiving credit cards that you did not apply for or receive calls from a collection agency for an unknown account.
If you are the victim of identity theft, you need to know about a Federal law called The Fair Credit Reporting Act, or “FCRA.” The FCRA, codified as 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et. seq., was enacted in 1970 to ensure that the information on your credit reports is accurate, fair, and kept private. The FCRA regulates the credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus as they are often referred, as well as, the creditors who furnish credit information to them. The largest and most known credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, and Innovis but there are many others. The FCRA dictates that the credit reporting agencies may only report information about you which is accurate. If any of the information Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion reports about you is inaccurate, you have the right to dispute that information. Once you dispute that information, credit bureaus have a responsibility to conduct a reasonable investigation into your dispute. If you are the victim of identity theft, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) affords us all many rights and we are here to help you fight for those rights at no cost.