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Know Your Rights When It Comes To Identity Theft

Identity theft is a widespread, and it can happen to anyone. However, there is no need to panic. You do have rights when it comes to identity theft. You just have to know them and act on them. So, when someone starts using your information to open new accounts or get services, here is what you do.

First Steps:

Start with going to the FTC homepage and reporting the theft. Once you have the report in hand, you can use it to make credit bureaus put a 7-year extended fraud alert on your account. That means that the creditor has to alert you whenever someone opens a line of credit in your name. The bureaus will also issue a 90-day initial fraud alert, which tells creditors to take reasonable steps to verify that it is you that is opening lines of credit in your name.

Most importantly, having the identity theft report means that credit bureaus have to take fraudulent information off your reports. Give creditors and debt collectors the identity theft reports, too, as this will stop them from reporting fraudulent accounts to the bureaus.


You have the right to copies of documents concerning the theft, and any debt collectors have to provide you with written information about any debt. You can get debt collectors to stop contacting you about any debts.

Financial Protection:

Under federal law, your financial losses are limited by the amount of time it takes for you to report the theft. If you report it before any unauthorized purchases are made, you are safe from any charges. If someone steals your credit card, the most that the card providers can charge you is $50.

The ATM or debit card is a little more complicated. If someone used your debit card number, you won’t be charged for anything if you report the theft within 60 days of getting your statement. Someone using your ATM card is different: if you report it within 2 business days after you learn of the theft, you are liable for $50. If you wait up to 60 days, you are liable for $500. After 60 days, your financial liability goes through the roof. Reporting earlier is better.

Californian’s Rights:

Here in California, you can report the theft to the local police department, and the officer you make your report to will probably give you forms for requesting information from credit bureaus. If the officer doesn’t, you can get the forms at the OAG website on the Consumer Information Sheet 3A: Requesting Information on Fraudulent Accounts page.

California allows you to freeze your accounts so no bureau can share your information without your permission. This is highly recommended, and you can learn how to do this at CIS 10: How to Freeze Your Credit Files page.

As you can see, you have protections and rights when it comes to this kind of fraud. If you are a victim of identity theft, contact us. We will help you get back your peace of mind.