PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT TIP: DON’T STORE PERSONAL INFO IN YOUR CAR

Did you know that car breaks in may lead to identity theft?  You can prevent identity theft by not storing personal identifying information in your car.  Texas car burglaries are a big problem for consumers and may lead to identity theft.  In 2015, over 67,000 cars were broken into or stolen.  Dallas averaged almost 12,000 incidents while Houston averaged over 20,000 incidents per month in 2015!

For some Mesquite, Texas residents, the fear of identity theft after their cars were broken into may become reality. Two suspects turned car burglaries into a much greater opportunity when they found Social Security cards, birth certificates and car titles in unlocked vehicles. According to Mesquite Police Chief Charlie Cato, “The number one most reported crime in the city of Mesquite is burglary of a motor vehicle.”

According to Mesquite Police, Elizabeth Carpenter and her boyfriend, Jonathon Warren, have admitted to over 75 break-ins of unlocked vehicles parked from three apartment complexes within the city. Mesquite Police found 156 items that contained personal identifying information for other people inside of Warren’s car and apartment. Click here to read the full story on The Dallas Morning News and stay up-to-date as developments continue.

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Courtesy of Mesquite Police Department
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Courtesy of Mesquite Police Department

What should you do if your identity has been stolen?

Identity theft victims should know their rights under federal law.  For example, the Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that protects identity theft victims.  The FCRA also regulates how consumer reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, report your personal and financial information.

If someone steals your identity, you have the right to:

  • Create an Identity Theft Report with The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”);
  • Place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report;
  • Place a seven-year extended fraud alert on your credit report;
  • Free copies of your credit reports from the credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and Trans Union;
  • Get fraudulent information removed or block from your credit report;
  • Dispute credit report errors; and
  • Stop creditors and debt collectors from reporting the fraudulent accounts.

HELP! My identity has been stolen. What should I do first?

Besides contacting the Adkins Firm, you should:

#1).    Call the companies where you know fraud has occurred and ask their fraud department to close or freeze the accounts. Be sure to change logins, password and PIN numbers for each compromised account.

#2).   File a police report with your local police department. You can also create an Identity Theft Report and obtain a recovery plan through The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) by visiting IdentityTheft.gov.

#3).   Order your FREE credit reports due to fraud and place a fraud alert.  Victims of identity theft have the right to order two (2) free credit reports annually from all three major credit bureaus. In order to get your free annual credit report, you will need to provide Central Source with your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. If you have moved in the last 2 years, you may be required to provide your previous address. Click here to download the free Annual Credit Report Request Form. Complete the form and mail it to the Annual Credit Report Request Service at P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348. After your request has been received, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union will each mail you your complete credit file within 15 days.

#4).   Review your credit reports for accuracy and identify any false or inaccurate information. Your credit report is divided into several sections, including your personal information, public records, account information and inquiries. Your personal information includes your name and name variations, date of birth, Social security number (and variations), current and previous addresses, phone numbers and employers. Credit reports with inaccurate names, public records, accounts or inquiries listed may be a fed flag that you are a victim of identity theft.

#5).    Dispute the fraudulent information by mail directly to Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Any information that an identity theft victim identifies as “not mine” should send a dispute letter, in writing by certified mail, directly to the credit reporting agency who is reporting the false information. All consumer reporting agencies, creditors and even employers, are required to comply with the FCRA by performing reasonable investigations of the disputed information.

The Adkins Firm represents identity theft victims.  We represent clients who have discovered fraudulent information on their credit or background reports.  We help identity theft victims from start to finish, even if it means filing a lawsuit in federal court to clear our clients’ names.

To learn more about how you can deter, detect and defend yourself from identity thieves and other scams, click here. If you are an identity theft victim and need help, contact us for a free case review.

Remember, it’s your credit report!