Have your bills been disappearing from the mailbox? If so, you may be the victim of identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), not getting your bills or other mail is a clue that someone has stolen your information. It’s one of many indicators that an identity thief could have stolen your identity and started using that identity to open accounts and run up credit debt that you will ultimately be responsible for.
Finding out that your identity may have been stolen can be emotional – it’s normal to feel angry, scared, worried, and a range of other emotions. As an identity theft attorney, I understand better than most what you are going through. I want you to know that if your identity has been stolen, there is a good chance I can help.
Missing Mail – Why it Could Indicate Identity Theft
In the modern world, the most obvious risks to your identity all seem digital – you probably handle your bank account online, you may include lots of personal info on your social media accounts, and so on. It’s easy to forget that some of the most useful information to identity thieves is found on paper documents.
Your bills and some of your other mail can contain much-needed information to reproduce your identity, including your address, legal name, account numbers and sometimes even your social security number (Yes, some mail can include your social security number. It shouldn’t be that way, but it does happen). That makes your mailbox a potential gold mine for criminals looking to steal your identity.
When you notice bills or other mail are missing from your mailbox, your first thought could be that it was mailed late or lost in the mail. You could be right, but it’s smart to verify what happened by contacting the party that was supposed to mail the document and verifying when it was mailed. If you suspect it was stolen, you need to act fast to try and protect your identity.
Do You Need an Attorney?
A few missing pieces of mail may not seem like a big deal – certainly not big enough to contact an attorney. And you don’t necessarily have to call an identity theft lawyer just because some of your mail is missing. But you certainly want to pay very close attention to your accounts and credit report to make sure nothing fishy is going on. Some common signs of identity theft include:
- Unusual charges on your credit cards. If an identity thief can manage it, they will often steal your credit card information and start racking up charges. You want to check your credit card accounts frequently to make certain that no unusual or unauthorized charges are popping up. If they are, contact your credit card company immediately. They should be able to help by freezing your account and reversing the charges.
- New and/or past due accounts on your credit report. Another big payday for identity thieves is opening new accounts using your information. They will often open new credit card accounts and max out those cards. Of course, they don’t pay them back, so they will become past due eventually. If you see new or past due accounts that you don’t recognize, you should contact the credit reporting agency and notify them of the issue. They are legally obligated to investigate your dispute.
- Contact from collection agencies for debts that aren’t yours. These usually occur a significant time after your identity has been stolen – long enough for the credit card company to decide you aren’t going to pay and sell your account to collections. The collection agencies are not supposed to harass you if you stay the debt isn’t yours, but that doesn’t always stop them from doing so. If they keep harassing you, the best option is to hire an attorney and have the attorney contact them.
How Can an Identity Theft Attorney Help?
Many clients hope that an attorney can find the thief and hold them accountable for the debts they wrack up. Unfortunately, finding identity thieves is often impossible. They are good at hiding their presence and they may not even be living in the U.S.
The reason you want to talk to an identity theft attorney is that they can help you repair the damage that was done and push back against those that harass you. For example, my free Identity Theft Repair Kit gives you easy-to-follow instructions and all the forms you need to tell debt collectors and credit reporting agencies that you were the victim of identity theft. And nothing is better for stopping debt collector calls than an official notice from an attorney that their harassment could be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
You don’t have to let identity theft destroy your life. You can fight back. Let me help. Fill out the form on this page and I’ll get back to you soon!