CLEVELAND VICTIM OF TAX IDENTITY THEFT
CONSUMERS AT RISK FOR TAX FRAUD AND IDENTITY THEFT
A Cleveland, Ohio resident filed a police report complaining that of tax identity theft. The fraud was discovered when the Internal Revenue Service contacted the identity theft victim with instructions to return a 2009 tax return refund. The identity theft victim was confused by the IRS correspondence because the victim did not file a 2009 tax return or receive a tax refund.
Law enforcement investigating the matter determined someone from New York used the identity theft victim’s name and Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return. The identity theft victim never lived in New York, but did visit the city in 2009. The fraudulent tax return indicated the identity theft victim earned over $40,000 in 2009, but the victim earned less than $6,000. Broadview Heights police recommended to the identity theft victim to request his credit reports and look for additional fraudulent information.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), identity theft victims have rights under federal law. For example, consumers who believe they are a victim of fraud or identity theft may place a fraud alert on their credit files with Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Here are the telephone numbers to place a fraud alert on your credit files:
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Victims of identity theft or fraud have the right to request a free credit report from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. This right is in addition to your right to a free annual credit report. Identity theft victims should request their credit reports and review their personal information, public records, accounts and inquiries for any credit report errors. If you find any credit report errors you should dispute the incorrect information. Your dispute should be made in writing (do not file disputes online or over the telephone) and mailed by certified mail return receipt requested.
In addition to disputing credit report errors, consumers have the right to request that the credit reporting agencies block information that is on their credit report due to identity theft. Consumers should provide Equifax, Experian and Trans Union with a police report or an identity theft report in support of their dispute. The credit reporting agencies have to block the fraudulent information within four business days.
The FCRA also provides consumers with a private cause of action against the credit reporting agencies for non-compliance with federal law. Credit reporting agencies must provide identity theft victims with their free credit report, investigate disputes and block information due to fraud. Consumers may obtain actual damages for negligent violations and statutory damages, plus punitive damages for willful violations of federal law. Additionally, consumers may obtain attorneys’ fees if they recover against the credit reporting agencies.
We represent victims of identity theft across the country in federal court under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Have you been a victim of identity theft or tax fraud? Contact us for a free case review 24/7 at 1-800-263-9091, or by using the contact form below.
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