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If you discover fraudulent account activity on a billing statement or by a collection notice for purchases and/or services you did not receive, it is necessary to take the following steps:
NOTE: It is vital to check statements monthly as few financial institutions allow a “grace” period longer than the contractual agreement (on the back of your monthly statement).
If checks are involved, see ITRC Fact Sheet FS 126 – Checking Account Takeover and Check Fraud for details. A strong password on the account may help to deter a thief from changing the billing address or adding a name to the account so be sure to use capitalized and lower case letters, numbers and special characters whenever possible.
Many people find out that they are victims of identity theft when they try to open a new line of credit. This can be a shock. This sense of shock can be even more overwhelming when you are told you are listed or somehow identified as “deceased.”
Your first priority is to find out who reported your death, when, and why. It is important that you take appropriate steps to correct the information at the originating source. After the information is corrected at the originating source, you will then have to notify any other entities that have you listed as deceased.
Listed below are some possible reasons and solutions. If these scenarios do not match your case, please contact the ITRC for further no-cost assistance using our toll-free number, (888) 400-5530.
Credit Card Company: If one person on a joint account dies, and that death is reported to the credit card company without expressly noting that the surviving cardholder(s) will take over the joint account, the credit card company may close the account due to “death.” Should this happen, the surviving cardholder(s) must contact the credit card company and correct the misinformation.
Credit Reports: A death claim may be inaccurately reported due to a typographical error or mixed records. This might be caused by a miscommunication from a credit card company because that credit card company inadvertently mixed the information of two different customers. There are also cases when a vengeful “ex” has managed to get a funeral director to send in a false “certificate of death.”
Call the three Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) and request a credit report or fraud alert at the numbers provided below. If you are listed as deceased in their database, the automated system will notify you that they cannot respond to your request for a fraud alert or credit report.
If you are unable to get a report, fill out ITRC Letter Form LF 029 – Death Reported in Error and mail it to the three CRAs using the addresses below. Be sure to mail all correspondence via certified, return receipt.
Social Security Administration (SSA) office and Vital Records: If you find out that your name is on the “National Death Registry” you will need to take steps to locate and amend the death certificate and then remove your name from the registry.
Other governmental notification: This scenario may include a notification letter from the Internal Revenue Service or other governmental entity (i.e. unemployment benefits, welfare, SSI, VA/Military). In these circumstances, steps must be taken to satisfy the criteria established by the particular agency involved by contacting them directly.
In all correspondence, the following documentation should be provided as evidence that you are not deceased:
ITRC Letter Form LF 029 – Death Reported in Error
In general, mortgage identity theft occurs when the individual whose information is being used is NOT party to the financial negotiations or contract. It is a federal crime to misrepresent any information in connection with a loan application. There are two types of mortgage identity theft this ITRC Solution addresses.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the lender or collection agency must stop all collection activity during the investigation. They cannot sell, trade, give away, donate, or loan this account to another entity.
Keep a record of everyone you speak to over the phone. In addition, keep all paperwork you receive and make copies of everything you send out.
For more information, contact an ITRC Victim Advisor toll free at 1-888-400-5530 to guide you through the more specific steps needed in your case.
National Resources for Reporting Mortgage Fraud and Scams:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
(202) 324-3000 – National FBI Financial Institution Fraud Unit
Mortgage Fraud Hotline 1-800-4FRAUD8 (1-800-437-2838)
When someone is working using your information, problems will be created with the Social Security Administration (SSA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and possibly the state tax authorities. You may become aware of the situation upon (1) receiving a notice from the IRS stating that you owe money due to income generated by someone working as you or (2) you apply for a government benefit and during this process find out somebody is working as you.
The following steps are recommended:
If someone is working as you, income would have been reported to the IRS. You should also check with your state for possible state tax issues.
In some cases, this person may have also applied for credit using your Social Security number. It is important to contact the three Credit Reporting Agencies to place a fraud alert and order your free copy of your credit reports. See ITRC Solution SN 03 – Contacting CRA’s to Place A Fraud Alert.
Check reports carefully for any fraudulent activity always send all documentation Certified Mail Return Receipt.
As of December 3, the ITRC has reported 558 breaches for 2013. For ITRC Breach Reports
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