In 2019, there were 14.4 million victims of identity fraud in the United States. The costs for victims of identity fraud have doubled from 2016 to 2018—to $1.6 billion
When someone is a victim of identity theft, it is somewhat common that the theft resulted in a loss of funds. Of those who reported identity theft in 2019, roughly 23% of them lost money. However, you lose more than just money when your identity is stolen.
Identity theft can end up seriously harming your credit and good name if someone takes out loans or other financing with your financial and personal information. Imposter scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2019 accounted for roughly $667 million in losses.
How Can You Tell If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft?
Spotting identity theft can be a challenge. You may not realize that anyone has used your information until you check your credit score or suddenly get declined for a credit application.
You may be able to spot identity theft if you start getting collection phone calls for debts that you do not remember. It may be more than just bad memory—you may not have signed up for the creditor agreed to pay that debt at all.
In other cases, someone might be calling you in an attempt to get your credit card or additional payment information, too.
The Connection Between Collection Calls and Identity Theft
When someone steals your information, they can use it in a wide variety of ways. One of the most common things that someone will do with your information is to apply for credit, obtain that credit, and charge up the balance. Credit cards are the most common, but any credit application can be used—from purchasing furniture to getting a personal loan.
Once they get this credit, they generally do not pay for whatever purchase they made. Instead, they use your contact information and your address. If you suddenly start getting collection calls or bills sent to your house, that can be a sign that someone else used your information (and your good credit) to make a purchase.
Don’t Recognize the Debt? Take These Steps.
One or two collection calls may not be any cause for alarm in some cases. It is possible that the bill collector simply has the wrong number. However, if you get repeated calls, you may need to take some action.
1. Get as much information about the debt as you can.
If you do not recognize the bill that the collector says you owe, you should do some initial investigation just by talking to the collector. Ask for their name and the business for which they work. In some cases, the bill collection will be a third-party entity that is not actually connected with the business that is allegedly owed the debt. You need to get the name of the business that supposedly is owed the debt, too.
Talk to the collector about the amount owed, how much it is, when the debt appears to have been owed, and any other information you can gather. Be sure that you do not state that you owe the debt or that you will “take care of it,” or the like. Instead, let them know that you do not recognize the debt that is allegedly owed and that you need to look into it further. Never give out payment information for debt that you do not recognize.
2. Do not give additional personal information.
The debt collector may ask to confirm some personal information with you. You can certainly confirm or deny that your address or phone number is correct, but do not correct the bill collector if they have the wrong information.
If any of the information is wrong, you do not want your correct information to now be associated with a bill that is not yours. It can be harder for you to dispute the debt later if some of your personal information matches the debt information.
3. Request a validation notice.
Collectors are required by federal law to send you a written notice about the debt and its terms if you ask for it. That documentation should tell you what the debt is and who is alleging that you owe it. This type of information can help you determine whether the debt is actually yours, or it can provide some additional data about how you should dispute the debt.
4. Get help from a professional.
As a consumer and as someone who has been a victim of identity theft, you have rights and options to dispute debts that you do not owe and take additional action to fight back against someone who has taken out credit in your name.
Has Your Credit Been Hurt By Identity Theft?
If your credit has been damaged due to identity theft you need to speak with an experienced credit identity theft attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online today and let's take the needed steps to help get your credit back on track.