DEBT COLLECTORS CAN TIP YOU TO ID THEFT
A call from a debt collector is not always a bad thing. A debt collector may tip you off to a debt you do not owe. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, almost half of all identity theft victims learn about the fraud when a debt collector or law enforcement agency takes action against them.
“The burden of proof falls on the consumer [to prove the debt does not belong to them],” said Mark Schiffman, spokesman for American Collectors Association International, whose 5,000 members represent most of the collection industry.
ID theft victims should take three steps to prove that they are not the person who owes the debt:
File a police report and share a copy with the collection agency or creditor. In Fort Worth, you can file an identity theft report by calling the nonemergency number 817-335-4222.
1. Add a fraud alert to your credit report with the three credit agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
TransUnion’s fraud victim assistance line is 800-680-7289; Equifax is 800-685-1111; and Experian is 888-397-3742.
Fill out the ID theft affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or call 877-438-4338.
2. Provide proof of the ID theft to both the collection agency and the creditor or merchant.
After completing those steps, the retailer should then contact the collection agency they hired and tell them to drop the case.
3. Send all correspondence to the retailer and collection agency by certified US Mail, return receipt requested.