Victim of Identity Theft
- If mystery accounts appear on your credit report, you may be an identity theft victim.
- The FTC recommends victims take positive steps to reduce the damage.
- Identity theft is a common crime in the US.
I received a summons for credit card debt that I did not know I had. Someone else has been using my credit cards. Any Help?
I am on Social Security because I became disabled 10 years ago. I have credit card debt because someone used my cards and I didn't know until I reviewed my credit report. I received a summons about a month ago, which I answered. I own my home and I would like to know what happens if I lose? Any help?
I have bad news: You may be a victim of identity theft. The good news is that you may not be held liable for the debts incurred as the result of identity theft. However, an identity theft victim must take action to be released from liability.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a US federal agency tasked to provide consumer protection, offers a Web site for businesses wanting to protect their customers from identity theft, and for consumers who either want to protect themselves from identity theft or who are victims of identity theft. Visit FTC.gov, to get detailed information about identity theft.
According to the FTC, victims of identity theft should take the following four steps:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports. See AnnualCreditReport.com for a no-cost credit report.
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Details on how to take each of the four steps can be found at the FTC recover from identity theft page.
You can also find more information about identity theft at the Identity Theft government website. The Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization, also offers information for identity theft victims.
Contact your county bar association to learn if there is a legal aid society in your county for people with limited income. Bring all of the documents relating to the credit report and the summons to the attorney at the legal aid society to learn what your options are. In general, I urge you to appear when and where the summons states so that you can explain to the judge that you are a victim of identity theft.
Also, if you would like to learn more about how to manage your credit card debt, Bills.com has a wealth of information and advice.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.