Identity Theft Attorney Missouri

Are you looking for an identity theft attorney Missouri? Cook Law, LLC can help. The practice revolves around helping people who were victims of identity theft. This could entail an estranged family member or friend stole your personal information and started applying for loans or you start noticing items appearing on your credit report that you do not recognize. You could also be getting collection letters or phone calls for a debt that you do not recognize. These are indications that you could be the victim of identity theft. These are some suggestions for what to do to help regain your identity.

Run a Credit Report

The first step, an identity theft attorney Missouri recommends is to save all copies of the collection letters. Even though you do not recognize these debts it is important to keep these correspondences. It will help identify who your accounts are with and is proof you are the victim of identity theft. After you have saved copies of your collection letters then go to annualcreditreport.com (do not worry it is free) and pull a copy of your credit reports. There are three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian). You can generate these reports and save them as a PDF to your computer. That way you will always have access to the reports. The credit reports will show what accounts are reporting to your credit. It is possible that you received a collection letter but something is not credit reporting and vice versa. The important thing to do is to scan your report and to mark down or note all the accounts that you do not recognize or that do not belong to you. They could appear under the hard inquiry section or show generally as open accounts.

After you have completed these steps the identity theft attorney Missouri states you need to get a copy of a police report or FTC fraud affidavit. FTC stands for Federal Trade Commission, which is a government regulatory body over a wide array of businesses. Your local police department should help you obtaining a police report. Usually it is as simple as calling the police and just filing a report with a detective. Sometimes, the police will not generate a report. It is important to be persistent with the police that you need the report to get the items off your credit report and to show you are a victim of identity theft. If, however, the police refuse to draft a police report do not worry. You can file a fraud affidavit with the FTC. To do so is rather simply and can be done online. The link to file it is here or you can just google “FTC fraud affidavit.” Here is the link https://www.identitytheft.gov/.

How to Write Dispute Letters

Three Credit Bureaus

The identity theft attorney Missouri wants you to know that it takes time to claim your identity back and to get these collection letters to stop. It is not an overnight process. Once you have the collection letters (if any) and the credit reports. You need to draft dispute letters to the three credit bureaus. The address for the credit bureaus is below:

Experian                          Equifax                              TransUnion
475 Anton Blvd               PO Box 740256               555 S Adams St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626  Atlanta, GA 30374       Chicago, IL 60661

 

What is A Dispute Letter?

If you are asking the identity theft attorney Missouri what exactly is a “dispute letter” then here is the explanation. A dispute letter simply puts the bureaus and and collectors on notice that you are disputing an inaccurate item that is appearing on your credit report and that you are the victim of fraud. The bureaus then must conduct an investigation and mail you the results back. Sometimes the item(s) are deleted or fixed from your credit report but more often then not they are not. However, as highlighted above, it immensely helps if you have a police report that you can attach with your dispute letter. A more detailed explanation of the process and of the law is below.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (or FCRA) regulates all credit bureaus, companies who credit report and generally credit reporting activity. The bureaus and furnishers (ie companies who put items on your credit report) can only report accurate information. If something is inaccurate on your credit reports (ie an account appearing that does not belong to you) then you can dispute the account with the credit bureaus. Often times, people either call the bureaus to dispute the item or will file a dispute through credit karma or online. This is not what you need to do. These disputes rarely get resolved in your favor and are intrinsically designed to simply leave the items reporting as they are. As the identity theft attorney Missouri stated above, what you need to do is write a detailed dispute letter to the credit bureaus.

What to Include in the Dispute Letter

The dispute letter needs to contain your personal information (ie name, address, dob and ssn) so the bureaus can look up your account. It should have a one or two page max narrative explaining how these accounts are not yours. The identity theft attorney Missouri indicates that you should also include in the dispute letter how the bureaus should conduct their investigation (ie is there someone they should call, is there some document they can look at, etc) and to also provide you the method of verification. This is for the bureaus to provide you all records that the bureaus reviewed in determine the validity of your dispute.

If you want to see a sample of what a dispute letter looks like you can go to cooklawyerllc.com and on the home page there is a free ebook to download that discusses how to write a dispute letter and what one looks like. The other option would be to call Cook Law and ask them for assistance in preparing or reviewing a dispute letter, since the practice revolves around being identity theft attorney Missouri. One side note, is that when you dispute the account with the credit bureaus you need to attach proof of the inaccuracy. This would be a police report (or FTC fraud affidavit) as well as your driver’s license, collection letter(s) and any other tangible proof you may have to show the accounts do not belong to you. When you mail the dispute package make sure to save copies of what you mail and to send it via tracking at the post office. This will enable you to see when the item arrives to the credit bureaus. Also, save a copy of your tracking receipt for your records.

Next Identify Theft Step After Dispute Letter

So what happens once the credit bureaus receive your dispute letter? Essentially they outsource your dispute to a vendor who forwards either a copy of your dispute or a one page form asking the credit furnisher (ie collector or company reporting on your credit) to verify if the information is accurate or not. The credit furnisher can make modifications to your accounts or delete the fraudulent item from your credit report. Usually the furnisher simply marks your account as accurate and notifies the credit bureaus to keep the item reporting as is. The credit bureau then forwards you a generic letter indicating the results of their dispute. Either the item stayed the same, was modified or deleted. You need to save a copy of the credit bureaus response letter. The law allows them 30 days to respond once they receive your dispute package so expect your letter within a month after you write.

Often times you will need to send multiple disputes to the credit bureaus to attempt to get the item resolved. The identity theft attorney Missouri states that written disputes (sent via tracking and with tangible proof of the fraud) is the best way to handle the dispute. Although, the credit bureaus may not delete the derogatory item they are setting themselves up for a potential lawsuit. If the credit bureau receives your credit dispute, forwards a copy to the credit furnisher, and they verify the account as accurate, you know have a cause of action against the credit bureau and credit furnisher.

How Can A Lawyer Help with Identity Theft?

As identity theft attorney Missouri Cook Law has extensive experience in filing suit against the credit bureaus and credit furnishers to get items removed from the credit reports. Most people here the term lawsuit, lawyer, litigation and are immediately turned away. The last thing someone wants to do is deal with a lawsuit. They think of all the costs associated and negative outcomes that could occur. However, to get an item removed from your credit report this could be your only and last option. It also is not as costly and bad as someone might think.

Once your case is set up, with the dispute letters, credit bureau responses and negative items still reporting the next step is for a lawyer to file a lawsuit. Your attorney would sue them under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and you could actually be entitled to not only having a clean credit report but also to monetary compensation. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to recover attorney fees, actual damages, statutory damages and punitive damages. This is just fancy language for you could make money off this ordeal and you do not have to worry about paying your lawyer, as the companies you sue will. Often times an identity theft attorney Missouri, such as Cook Law, will take a case contingent, meaning they only get paid from the other side, win or lose.

Being the victim of identity theft could subject you numerous negative items related to your credit. Your insurance could up, credit lines decreased, could be challenging to find a job or employment and you could also be unable to obtain a loan, financing, or general credit depending on how bad your circumstances are. Do not worry though because this nightmare can be fixed. Not only would you be entitled to having your credit restored, stop unwanted debt collection activity but as indicated above you could make some money for your time and trouble. An experienced identity theft attorney Missouri can help you regain your identity and credit back.

 

What is the Next Step?

If you, or someone you know, thinks that they have been the victim of identity theft then call Cook Law today for a free consultation. Although being the victim of identity theft can be fixed it will take some time to get a resolution. It is important to start early with pulling your credit and writing the dispute letters. If a lawsuit is needed it could an additional few months to obtain a favorable resolution for you. That is why it is important to start now if you believe you are the victim. As an identity theft attorney Missouri Cook Law tells clients to pull copies of your credit report at least once or twice a year. A quick scan of your report will tell you if any thing is appearing as inaccurate or something you do not recognize. Many times, clients do not know they are victims of identity theft until they pull copies of their reports because the collectors were sending letters to another address.

The benefits of hiring an identity attorney Missouri can help alleviate the stress of dealing with the tribulations of identity theft and guide you through the process as stress free as possible. It does not cost you any thing to get a free consultation with Cook Law but a quick phone call. As stated Cook law practice revolves around suing credit bureaus, debt collectors and credit furnishers to help get clients clean credit, stop unwanted collections and sometimes monetary compensation for you. Contact us today!