Hundreds of businesses have your personal information these days. This includes sensitive information such as your birthday, address and even your social security number.
On top of that, some of them even likely lost that information to third party hackers, increasing your risk of identity theft. Lately we’ve seen several cases of people who were sued over credit card accounts they never opened. Identity theft defense is crucial for these individuals, and it’s important to take action soon.
If you’re being sued for a debt that is in your name, but for an account you never opened, you may be a victim of identity theft. Here are four steps you can take in order to protect your rights:
1. Recognize Identity Theft Defense and Defend Yourself
If you are being sued on an account opened in your name you must defend yourself. If you do nothing, the debt won’t go away. Without a defense, the court will decide the case without hearing your side of the story and may likely decide that you owe the money. So file a defense as soon as possible. If you don’t know how to file an identity theft defense, seek help from the District Court Self-Help Center or from an organization like Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Services or Legal Aid.
Have You Been a Victim of Identity Theft?
Contact an identity theft lawyer at Holland Law Firm today.
If you’re going to defend yourself, make sure to show up for every court date. Maryland Judiciary Case Search allows you to see when and where you have to go to court. If possible, make sure you have any information that proves the accounts in question are not yours.
For example, many identity thieves use a false address for fake accounts they open. That’s so victims of identity theft don’t get statements or letters about the account in the mail. You could prove that you didn’t live at the address when the account was opened using a copy of a lease or utility bill, showing you lived somewhere else at the time.
2. File a Police Report
Filing a police report may not help you catch the thief, but it will create a paper trail that you’re a victim and not the “real” debtor. Make sure to get a copy of any report you file.
You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
3. Check Your Credit Reports
You can get copies of your credit report from the three largest consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) by going to annualcreditreport.com. Make sure you save a copy of those reports to look at later. Go through each report careful and note anything at all that is inaccurate, especially:
- False addresses
- False names
- False telephone numbers
- Accounts that you don’t recognize
You have a right to challenge inaccurate information. Doing so might improve your credit score, but it will also make identity theft harder in the future by making sure the CRAs have accurate contact information for you.
4. Learn About Recovering from Identity Theft
There are many more steps you can and should take to recover from identity theft and avoid future identity theft. Here are some more resources:
CONTACT US: If you need identity theft defense, feel free to contact us for a consultation.