Knowing your rights
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), an American federal law, gives you specific rights when you are, or believe that you are, the victim of identity theft. A brief summary of the six rights designed to help you recover from identity theft are listed below.
1. You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. An Initial Security Alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An Extended Fraud Victim Alert stays in your file for seven years.
2. Per Federal law, you are entitled to one free credit report each year. To obtain a free annual report, they must be requested through the Annual Credit Report Request Service online at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ or by phone at 877-322-8228.
3. You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information. A creditor or other business must give you copies of applications and other business records relating to transactions and accounts that resulted from the theft of your identity, if you ask for them in writing.
4. You have the right to obtain information from a debt collector. If you ask, a debt collector must provide you with certain information about the debt you believe was incurred in your name by an identity thief—such as the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.
5. If you believe information in your file results from identity theft, you have the right to ask that a consumer-reporting agency block that information from your file. You must identify the information to block, and provide the consumer-reporting agency with proof of your identity and a copy of your identity theft report.
6. You may prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft. The business will expect you to identify, in writing, what information you do not want reported. They will also expect you to provide them with an identity theft report.