In Michigan, identity theft is all too common. Our state routinely leads the nation in the number of identity theft complaints. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2018, there were 140 complaints for every 100,00 residents. But where can you turn for help?
Untangling the web of identity theft can be complicated, time-consuming, and overwhelming. Identity theft can damage your credit score and your reputation. It can also make it difficult to obtain housing, get a car loan, or even get a job.
We provide a free consultation for identity theft victims, helping to identify damage to your credit and reputation. We work tirelessly to clear fraudulent accounts, restore our client’s credit, and get compensation for your emotional damages and financial losses.
The Lyngklip and Associates Attorneys have dedicated their credit reporting practice to helping those who have been damaged by the effects of identity theft, including but not limited to:
As more businesses, organizations and health providers rely on computers, the internet, and cloud-based data services, the risk of identity theft continues to grow. If you think you are a victim of identity theft, either because accounts or personal information appearing on your credit reports does not belong to you, then you should follow these steps:
Before taking any steps to fix credit report errors or identity theft, you need to protect yourself from further damage. This can be done by requesting that one of the three credit bureaus place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Requesting a fraud alert from one credit bureau will alert all three major bureaus. Fraud alerts are free and will make it harder for an identity thief do further damage.
You will also want to place a security freeze on your credit reports. A security freeze will limit access to your credit reports without your express approval using a PIN number for verification. This will prevent an identity thief from being able to open any new accounts. It should also prevent the identity thief from being able to access your credit report – chances are, they were able to in the first place and that’s likely how they learned a great deal about you.
Next, obtain copies of your consumer credit files from each of the major consumer credit reporting agencies. You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report each year from the three main credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you haven’t already obtained a copy, use this form to request your credit report; because it allows you to input your previous address, it avoids the problem of your request being rejected for an address discrepancy.
After you request copies of your consumer credit files, those agencies have 30 days to respond to you with a copy of that credit file. Once you receive a copy of your credit file, READ IT. Go through it, line by line, they should not be difficult to read because you should recognize all of the information. For every account, judgment, lien, name, address, social security number, date of birth, phone number, and employer that you do not recognize, write a letter to the consumer credit reporting agency that produced the report and dispute that information. You can use the following form (need link) and you can also review the following example (need link). Now, once you have finalized your dispute letter, be sure to sign & date it, and enclose with it a copy of the consumer credit file report you are disputing, your driver’s license and a copy of your social security card. And before you mail it, make a copy of the entire letter including the supporting documentation you enclosed. Be sure to collect in a safe place copies of each consumer credit file you received, and copies of each dispute you sent in return. Above all else, you want to document that you identified something inaccurate on your consumer credit file and that you disputed that inaccuracy – your attorney will use this information as part of your case later.
You should contact the fraud department for each of the financial institutions where you maintain accounts and notify them that you believe you are a victim of identity theft and that you have requested a credit freeze be entered by the major consumer credit reporting agencies. This includes credit card companies, mortgage and car loan servicers, cable and cell phone providers and other utility providers. Be sure to follow up in writing, and keep a written record of every contact that you had with your creditors. In addition to contacting your creditors (entities to which you owe money), you should also contact your financial institutions and banks (entities where you deposit money). If you believe that your checks have been stolen, contact a major credit card verification company, such as TeleCheck or Cetergy, to ask that their databases not accept checks in your name.
If you received letters, emails, text messages, voicemails, or some other communication indicating that you were denied housing, employment, or credit, you should collect those letters and communications and also preserve them for review with your attorney. After being turned down, you can use this form letter to request a statement of reasons why you were denied – it might be connected to the identity theft. This can help to establish the damages that you have suffered as a result of a credit bureau or creditor’s failure to correct incorrect or incomplete information.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, a Michigan identity theft lawyer can help you stop the fraud and set the record straight. As you complete steps 1 through 5, the number one rule is: document, document, document. Following each step and gathering all of the requested information will help to ensure that you have a strong case — and a higher likelihood of success. Above all else, save copies of everything you receive and everything you send to the consumer credit reporting agencies, to your creditors, and to your financial institutions. Do your best, because if you are missing any of these documents, it could delay your case — or even prevent it from moving forward. Once you have completed steps 1 through 5, you are ready to contact an attorney.
Once you’ve contacted a Michigan Identity Theft Attorney, they will review the materials and help you to draft a statement to file with the Police. While you can file a police report on your own, your lawyer can make sure that you have all of the facts in place to ensure that your statement to the police is both as accurate and knowledgeable as possible and to ensure that the police record accurately reflects that statement. With that report in hand, your attorney can help you use that police report to continue to dispute with the consumer credit reporting agencies to remove false or fraudulent information, and ultimately, if necessary, to sue the consumer credit reporting agencies. Of course, if you have already filed a police report, be sure to secure a copy of that report from the police department where you filed it before contacting a Michigan Identity Theft Attorney.
If you have had your identity stolen, you may have legal recourse. Our firm can help. For more than 20 years, the law firm of Lyngklip & Associates has advocated for consumers across Michigan. Our experience in this area of law, from credit reporting errors to background checks makes us uniquely suited to represent clients who have been victims of identity theft.
Lyngklip & Associates exclusively represents consumers, protecting them from those who may take advantage of them. Using our knowledge of Michigan consumer protection law, we utilize strategies to minimize our clients’ costs, while maximizing their recovery.
To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Michigan identity theft lawyer, contact our law firm today at 248-965-5751 or email us.
If you believe that your identity was stolen and you have already suffered a loss, you should seek an attorney immediately. Many victims of identity theft will file a police report or sign identity theft affidavits before they have all the facts. Before you speak to the police or sign any documents like an affidavit, you should get help from an attorney who can help you gather the facts and the documents that you will need. Finally, an attorney can help you understand if you can seek compensation for the harm to your credit or reputation.
If you are getting calls from debt collectors about accounts that came from identity theft, you should dispute any charges in writing and keep good records of everything you do! After you have completed these steps, you should contact an attorney for help. An attorney can help you find out if there has been any damage to your credit history and whether any other creditors may be pursuing you for fraudulent accounts.
If you continue to see fraudulent accounts on your credit report after settling your identity theft issues, you have not resolved all the issues with your identity theft. Credit bureaus trade and resell the information to each other. False information on your report can appear in other reports and cause you to lose credit opportunities, employment or promotion. Don’t hesitate to call an experienced attorney right away if you find false information on your report. Your issue may have not been fully resolved or your identity may have been stolen again.
If your identity has been stolen, you should obtain reports from the major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You should closely monitor these reports and dispute any new charges that show up for which you are not responsible. An experienced attorney may be able to make this process easier for you. Additionally, many other credit reporting agencies maintain information about you, your banking and your credit history. An attorney will help you identify all the possible sources of false information about you and begin the process of disputing that false information.
If your identity has been stolen you should NOT file a police report without the assistance of an attorney. Many identity theft victims file police reports before they have all the facts and before they can be sure that they are a victim of identity theft. These prematurely filed reports can come back to bite a victim later once all the facts have surfaced. An attorney will help you gather all the facts and help you to file a report that accurately reflects what happened in your identity theft. Once you have filed a police report, the attorney can use the report to remove false items from your credit reports
This information is used for us to gauge where you are in the process so we can better help you through the process.