Virginia & Washington DC Identity Theft Resolution Lawyer
As one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States, identity theft affects us all. Whether we are just fearful our personal information will be stolen, or fighting to correct our credit reports, it is clear that this epidemic is now part of our everyday reality.
As the problem grows, so too do the laws designed to combat and punish the perpetrators of identity theft. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are several tough state laws, including the Identity Theft Protection Act of 2003. Identity theft crimes committed via computers, such as phishing and pharming, are considered felonies punishable by five to ten years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Prosecuting identity theft fraud
In the United States, the perpetrator of aggravated identity theft can receive 15 years in prison if the value of the goods obtained is over $1,000 in a one-year period. Identity theft also can be prosecuted under many federal laws including the following:
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), originally passed in 1970
- Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) of 2003
- Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2007
- Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998
Why you need qualified identity theft help
Identity theft is a very serious crime that merits decisive action. At Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. our Virginia & Washington DC identity theft lawyers can provide identity theft help with everything from credit report disputes to litigation.
Errors or fraudulent activity appearing on your credit report can be financially devastating. As a result of identity theft, you could be denied credit, employment as well as housing and utilities.
To report identity theft in Fairfax, you should take the following action right away:
- Notify the police and get a copy of the report
- Cancel credit and debit cards related to theft
- Ask the credit bureaus to put a fraud alert on your credit file
- Put your dispute in writing and submit it to the dispute address for each of the three credit bureaus
- Download and complete the identity theft affidavit available from the Federal Trade Commission or FTC website
- Send a completed FTC identity theft affidavit to your credit card companies, banks and credit bureaus
At Blankingship & Christiano, P.C., our identity theft attorneys are knowledgeable about Fairfax identity theft laws and understand the importance of maintaining an accurate credit report.
How do I fix my credit after identity theft?
Anyone, anywhere can be a victim of identity theft. Millions of victims are affected each year, and many don’t realize it’s happened until a problem appears on a loan application or a credit report. Identity theft can ruin your credit score and deeply impact your ability to live your life, which is why it’s key to take the steps below to clear your name and fix your credit as soon as you realize you’ve been a victim of identity theft:
Step 1: Call Your Credit Card Company
As soon as you realize you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you should call your credit card company to notify them your card has been stolen. Notifying them immediately allows them to deactivate the card or cards and possibly prevent further losses. Many credit card companies also provide immediate refunds for fraudulent purchases.
Step 2: Notify Police
Once any active credit cards have been halted, you should notify law enforcement and file a police report. In some cases, they may be able to track down the person who stole your information. But even if they can’t, it’s beneficial to have an official record of the incident as you go through the process of dealing with lenders and creditors.
Step 3: Save All Documents and Records
This is an ongoing requirement, but as soon as you realize any inconsistencies in your credit reports or bills, start saving all of your documents and keeping track of calls and emails related to the issue. You should pull previous credit card bills too and examine them for any unusual activity you may have missed.
Step 4: Activate a Fraud Alert
Contact the credit reporting agencies to place an initial fraud alert on your credit report that requires lenders to contact you directly via phone or another method to authorize new lines of credit. This can help prevent an individual who has stolen your information from opening new lines of credit in your name even after you’ve canceled existing cards. This can be extended into a 7-year fraud alert after an identity theft report to keep you protected.
Step 5: Find and Dispute Errors
Obtain copies of all of your credit reports and thoroughly examine them for errors, writing every error down. Once you have a complete list, write a letter of dispute detailing each of the incorrect entries and send it to one of the credit reporting agencies with a copy of the police report you filed. It’s also useful to obtain a letter from your credit card company regarding the fraudulent use to support your claim. The credit bureaus must respond to your claims within 30 days. You must send your disputes to each credit reporting agency that reported the inaccurate information.
Step 6: Contact Other Financial Institutions
Once you have contacted the credit reporting agencies, you should reach out to the creditors and companies that supplied information for your credit report to inform them that you are disputing claims due to identity theft.
Step 7: Follow Up
Once you’ve filed all of the necessary information, you need to stay on top of process and follow up with all of the agencies, lenders and companies involved. You should check in about every 30 days and continue to take notes of all phone calls and emails.
A good lawyer can help you fix your credit after identity theft and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. If you have further questions or need assistance clearing your name after identity theft, call our lawyers at Blankingship & Christiano today at (571) 313-0412.
Schedule An Appointment With Experienced Identity Theft Lawyers
If you are the victim of identity theft and need to understand how identity theft laws in Fairfax and throughout Virginia and nationwide can protect you, contact a Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. Virginia & Washington DC identity theft resolution lawyer at (571) 313-0412 or online to discuss your case.