Steps To Clearing Your Name
How To Clear Your Name
Clearing an individual's name after they have been a victim of identity theft is a challenging task. Whether an identity thief has used a victim's passport or other identification fraudulently, racked up unauthorized charges, or committed a crime using their name, there are certain steps that must be taken in order to reverse any financial damages or wrongful implications.
Fraudulent credit card use
If individuals notice unauthorized charges on their financial statements, chances are, they have become victims of identity theft. They should follow the steps below in order to reverse any financial damage that is a result of the theft:
- 1) Obtain copies of credit reports from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax individually. All credit reports should then be reviewed thoroughly for any unauthorized inquiries, address changes or additional lines of credit. A fraud alert should also be issued on all three credit reports.
- 2) A 30 day credit freeze should be issued if credit card fraud is suspected. This will prevent thieves from taking out new lines of credit or using existing credit.
- 3) File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC will then forward the complaint to other government agencies and companies that can take further action.
- 4) Inform all credit card companies involved about the theft. This will limit individuals' liability to $50 per credit card.
- 5) File a police report with local authorities. An identity theft claim should be filed at the local police station. Before the claim can be filed, police will need sufficient evidence, such as unauthorized bills, in order to produce a report.
- 6) Close all credit accounts that have been compromised. Make sure to also change any account numbers, online IDs, and passwords.
- 7) Monitor all financial statements frequently, and obtain credit reports regularly.
Fraudulent government identification use
Thieves can commit a variety of different crimes, such as disability and employment fraud, with an individual's passport or social security card. Below contains information on what to do if an identity thief has stolen a social security card, passport or driver's license:
- 1) If social security card theft is suspected, individuals should:
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
- Check all of their financial statements for unauthorized activity
- File a complaint online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center
- Check all of their Social Security records by calling 1-800-772-1213
- Obtain a new Social Security card by visiting their local Social Security office.
- 2) If passport theft is suspected, individuals should:
- Report the stolen passport to local authorities, and individuals should obtain a copy of the report.
- Locate the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy, and individuals should provide proof of their citizenship, such as birth certificates or driver's licenses.
- Follow the standard procedures for identity theft, such as reviewing all financial statements for unauthorized charges.
- 3) If driver's license theft is suspected, individuals should:
- Report the loss to all major government and financial institutions, and copies of credit reports from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax should be obtained and reviewed for any suspicious activities. Individuals should consider issuing fraud alerts and credit freezes as well.
- Place a fraud alert on all stolen licenses. This can be done by filling out the DMV's complaint form and sending it to the nearest DMV Investigation office.
- Obtain a new driver's license by either going in person to the DMV, or by filling out a form online. The requirements and procedures for obtaining a new license all differ depending on the state. Individuals should check DMV.org to find out more information.
False civil and criminal judgments
On occasion, identity thieves will use victims' names and identification fraudulently when they are arrested by law enforcement for a crime. When this occurs, victims of identity theft then become responsible for the crime and for showing up to court on the given date. Victims of identity theft can find themselves being arrested for crimes they did not even commit. If individuals find that they have been wrongfully arrested, they should:
- 1) Contact their nearest police department and the court in jurisdiction of the arrest and report that they are the victims of identity theft.
- 2) Contact the state Department of justice and the FBI to ask how to clear their names.
- 3) Contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that they are the victims of identity theft id a civil judgment is entered into their names.
- 4) Consult an attorney to determine the best legal action to take, and to also build a strong case for their identity theft claims.
Identity thieves are not only capable of destroying individuals' credit, but they are also capable of destroying individuals' personal records as well as abusing their personal forms of identification. It is important for all individuals to be aware of the signs of identity theft, and to report immediately any suspicious financial activities, lost or stolen identification cards, and any wrongful convictions. All credit reports, financial statements, personal IDs, and criminal records should be monitored on a frequent and consistent basis as a precautionary measure. Identity theft protection services should also be considered as a way of avoiding identity theft altogether.