FCRA Gives Identity Theft Victims Specific Rights

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides specific rights to consumers who are or believe they are the victim of identity theft. If someone uses your name, Social Security number, date of birth, or other identification without the authority to do so in order to commit fraud, it is considered Identify Theft.  For example, if someone used your personal information to get a loan or to get a credit card, they may have committed identity theft.

Here is a short summary of these rights that were designed to help you recover:

  1. You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft.

  2. You have the right to free copies of the information in your file.  An initial fraud alert entitles you to a copy of all the information from all 3 nationwide agencies.  An extended alert entitles you to 2 free copies in a 12-month period following the start of the alert.

  3. You have the right to obtain copies of and documentation relating to fraudulent transactions.

  4. You have the right to obtain information from a debt collector about the debt you believe stemmed from the theft of your identity.

  5. You have the right to ask that a consumer reporting agency block information from your file that is from identity theft.

  6. You may prevent creditors from reporting information about you if it is from identity theft.

To review more specifically the rights available to identity theft victims, go to www.ftc.gov/idtheft or write to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) at:

FTC-Consumer Response Center Room 130-B

600 Pennsylvania  Ave, NW

Washington, D.C. 20580

If this has happened to you and substantial debt has been obtained under your identity, I would also recommend you speak to a bankruptcy attorney. It may or may not be necessary for you to file a bankruptcy, but at times, unfortunately, this is a necessary step to straightening out this type of situation.  Or it may require you disputing a lawsuit regarding a fraudulent debt.  Most people find out about identify theft when debt collectors come calling and lawsuit summons begin arriving regarding unpaid loans, credit cards, etc. Be proactive and act quickly to limit the damage.