According to The Columbus Telegram,  43-year-old Michael Schnelle has been charged with identity theft and related theft crimes. Schnelle, a manager of a rent to own store in Columbus, Nebraska, allegedly opened fraudulent accounts using customers’ social security numbers and fake names. According to law enforcement, over $250,000 was charged on fraudulent accounts.

Identity theft is the number 1 crime in America. Identity thieves may use high-tech or low-tech means to steal consumers’ identities.  This is an example of low tech identity theft.  Companies should be held responsible for the actions of their employees.  Companies should monitor employees’ actions and protect their customers’ most private and sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers.

Identity theft victims should report the crime to law enforcement.  You should provide law enforcement with a completed FTC ID Theft Complaint & Affidavit. You should also be prepared to provide law enforcement your government issued identification card, proof of your address and any proof of the identity theft that you may have. Simply, tell the police that your identity has been stolen and you need to file a police report.  Ask the police to provide you with a copy of the report.  You can use the police report in support of your disputes to the credit bureaus and to help clear your name.

Identity theft victims should also request their free credit reports from the 3 nationwide consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.  We do not recommend to consumers to obtain their reports online.  Instead, click Free Annual Disclosure Request Form to download and print the form to order your free credit reports by mail. Or, you may call 1-877-322-8228.

Identity theft victims should dispute credit report errors due to fraud.  Names, addresses, phone numbers, accounts and inquiries should be disputed to each of the credit bureaus.  The dispute should be sent by certified mail and you should keep a copy of your dispute letters.  You should also send a copy of the police report in support of your dispute.  If the credit bureaus do not delete the fraudulent information, then you should contact an experienced identity theft lawyer to evaluate your potential claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The Adkins Firm represents identity theft victims.  We represent consumers with errors on credit reports and background reports in federal court.  If you are a victim of identity theft, then you should contact us and request a free book on what to do if you are a victim of identity theft. Remember, it’s your credit report!