600 Hours to Clean Up Identity Theft

Ameetro discovered someone stole her identity a few years ago. She doesn't know the person who stole her identity, so where does she start with cleaning this mess up?

QUESTION: Ameetro in New York City discovered someone stole her identity a few years ago. She discovered the theft when she received a preapproved credit card offer she didn’t apply for. She doesn’t know the person who stole her identity, so where does she start with cleaning this mess up?

ANSWER: Wherever you can get someone to file a police report, file it because you’re going to need it. That’s the first step. The second step is contacting the fraud victim division of each one of the banks that claim to have a credit account on you. Let them know that it is not you, that your identity has been stolen, and that they’re up a creek.

The first thing you need to understand is when someone steals your identity, you have zero financial liability. None. A thief has stolen your identity. If a thief steals your checkbook and writes checks out of your checkbook, you’re not liable for those checks. Same thing here. You need to remember that because these bozos in the credit card companies will attempt to blame you or act like you took out the card and you just don’t want to pay it. You’re just going to have to whale on them and convince them that you are not paying this. You didn’t take it out. They don’t have your signature on file. This is identity theft. Give them a copy of the police report. Get the affidavit signed and notarized. They will remove this from your credit, and if they don’t, you’ll sue their butt. You’ve got to take that stand because you’re not going to be dealing with people who care or that are very smart.

It’s a mess to clean up identity theft. The average is 600 hours when someone’s identity gets stolen to clean up their mess, so I’m not going to be very encouraging to you, but I will tell you that if you will do this with each one of them—get the police report to each one of the fraud victim divisions, call them point by point by point through there—you do not owe any money, but you have to get this mess cleaned off your bureau. Then put documentation, continually check your credit bureau once a quarter. It’s going to cost you a little bit of money buying copies of your credit report after a while. You can only get one a year free from each of the three, and you’re going to need to check it more than once a year. Then once you get it all cleaned up, you’ve got to check it once or twice a year for the rest of your life just to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Seventy percent of this is from somebody you know. A lot of times, it’s family. If your family’s that messed up, you may really know and you just don’t want to admit to yourself you know. Here’s the problem. If you know who it is and you don’t put a stop to it, it’s going to happen again because the person thinks you’re a victim. They think this is okay. It’s not okay. It’s criminal fraud.

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