Identity theft in Michigan has been a hot topic since at least 2004, when the state legislature passed a series of laws aimed at defining identity theft and protecting consumers. The state consistently is near the top of national data for identity theft reporting:
- In 2018, Federal Trade Commission data ranked Michigan eighth in the country for identity theft reports per 100,000 residents, with 140.
- In 2017, Michigan led the nation with 151 complaints per 100,000 residents.
- The same was true in 2016, with 175 identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents.
All this evidence suggests Michigan residents should understand what identity theft is and how to report a possible identity theft.
Defining Identity Theft
Michigan’s Identity Theft Protection Act provides a legal definition for the crime in this state. In simplest terms, a person may not “use or attempt to use the personal identifying information of another person” to “obtain credit, goods, services, money, property, a vital record, a confidential telephone record, medical records or information, or employment,” or commit any other unlawful act.
The law further outlines situations that can be defined as identity theft. Digital acts such as creating fake emails or websites under false pretenses, purporting to represent a business, are also considered identity theft. Even filing a false police report of identity theft, by legal definition, is identity theft.
Note that your identity does not need to necessarily be successfully stolen for a crime to be committed. Only the attempt is necessary. Identity theft in Michigan is a felony, and first offenses carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine.
The Michigan Department of Treasury provides a list of possible “red flags” for identity theft. They include:
- State or federal authorities notify you of multiple tax returns filed under your name and Social Security number
- You see unexplained withdrawals or deposits in your bank account
- Bills or mail you expect to see do not arrive
- Unfamiliar entries appear on your credit report
- Bill collectors call you about debts that are not yours
Any of these could be a sign your identity has been compromised, and you should take steps to report the incident.
Reporting Identity Theft
Once you suspect identity thieves are at work, quickly organize all the relevant information in your possession. Your records will support you in conversations and are invaluable if you need to call on an identity theft and credit reporting lawyer. Make copies of original documents. Write down the names of people you talk with and make notes about the conversations.
Other important steps to take when you fear your identity has been stolen include:
- Placing a fraud alert on your credit report with all three credit bureaus
- Disputing/closing any fraudulent accounts with any company that has opened an unauthorized account.
- Disputing any credit reporting information relating to the fraudulent accounts with the credit bureaus.
Contact a Trusted Identity Theft Attorney Today
With all that, it can take years for identity theft to be unwound. You may need help to navigate your relationship with law enforcement, credit bureaus and government agencies. Contact Lyngklip & Associates, Southfield’s consumer law attorneys, at (248) 208-8864 or through our online contact form to make an appointment to discuss your situation.