An identity theft victim is left not only without some of their money, but also without their security. These people are constantly scared it will happen them again. They are afraid to trust banks, the Internet, and people they don't know. Many people have to go into therapy just to begin living again. Once a breech of trust has been committed, it is very difficult to get it back.
Identity theft can ruin a person's life. An identity theft victim can sometimes lose thousands of dollars and then spend thousands more trying to clear their names. To fix the problem, it takes people years of tracking down the origin of the theft, closing accounts, convincing credit card companies and banks that they have been robbed, and time in court going after the criminals. Some people have lost their jobs because of the time it takes to repair the damage done from theft. Though there's no question that identity thieves can wreak havoc on your personal finances, there are some things you can do to take control of the situation.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on your credit record and requires that your record be made available only for certain legitimate business needs. Under this act, both the credit bureau and the organization that provided the information to the credit bureau such as a bank or credit card company, are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. If you discover that there's something fishy about your credit report, you should immediately call the credit bureau and tell them about the discrepancy in your credit report.
In addition, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive practices to collect overdue bills that a creditor has forwarded for collection. You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once the debt collector receives your letter, the company cannot contact you again. Although such a letter should stop the debt collector's calls, it will not necessarily get rid of the debt itself. Thus, you should also make a police report along with the letter stating you don't owe the debt.
If you discover that an identity thief has changed the billing address on an existing credit card account, close the account immediately. When you open a new account, ask that a password be used before any inquiries or changes can be made on the account. Avoid using easily available information such as your name, your birth date, your social security number or your phone number. You should also perform the same recovery steps if you find that an identity theft has tempered with your bank accounts, checks or ATM card. If your checks have been stolen or misused, stop payment immediately.
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