To obtain free copies of these credit reports you can do one of three things. Of course, if you need any assistance you can contact an identity theft defense attorney. You can write the companies a letter asking for a free copy of your report via mail. You will need to include proof of your identity such as driver’s license, birth certificate, social security card and/or utility bill. The easiest step is to go to annualcreditreport.com and order an instant credit report online. Lastly, if you applied for credit and were denied usually the bank where you applied should have a copy of your report they can send to you. Once you get a copy of your report you need to review for any credit errors or the items that appear which do not belong to you.
How Does Bad Credit Hurt You?
Some people may not care that they have inaccurate items on their credit report because they do not need credit for any thing. Perhaps they pay cash for everything or already own all of their assets free and clear and do not want the help of an identity theft defense attorney. Having negative items on your credit report can effect you in many different ways, not just in applying for credit. That is why it is important to always maintain your credit in good standing. Some of the examples of bad credit hurting you are: your credit lines could disappear, an inability to obtain any credit (such as house, car, student loans, etc), the loans you do have you could be paying higher interest rates on and of course, your insurance premiums could always go way up.
Everywhere you turn today your credit report plays a role. It could be in job applications or applying for housing. A good identity theft defense attorney can help you fix your credit if you have derogatory items appearing on your credit report because of identity theft. You do not need to pay for some fly by night credit repair agency as that is a waste of your money. Most of this you can get resolved yourself. In addition to not having to pay any one to help you, you could also be entitled to monetary compensation for having to deal with this matter. Before we go into that we will discuss how to properly dispute your credit.
How Do To Dispute a Credit Mistake?
Now that you have your credit reports and want this item removed from your credit file you need to first draft a dispute letter to the credit bureaus. The letter should include be typed up, with the date and your personal identifying information (address, social security number and date of birth). The letter would simply identity the account(s) that do not belong to you and to tell the credit bureaus that this is not your account. An identity theft defense attorney can help you review this letter, free of charge, if you want help. You do not need to mail a copy to the furnisher, or company, who is reporting on your credit. If you wish to send them a courtesy copy you can. Make sure to include a copy of your ID with the letter and save a copy of what you mail. It is wise to mail it tracking so you can keep track of the bureaus receiving it.
What happens now? Well you wait and after about thirty days the credit bureaus will respond. The letter will be a few pages and will basically tell if you the ignored your dispute, left the item on there, made any changes or deleted it (per your request). If the credit bureaus do any thing but delete the item then they have violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (or FCRA for short). This means you could now sue them (with the help of an identity theft defense lawyer) and be entitled to financial compensation for your troubles. It is prudent to send more then one dispute letter, ideally about three letters. The letters should progress in detail on your dispute. For example, the first letter should be very generic and almost boilerplate. The second letter should have a little bit more of an explanation on how this item is inaccurate. The last and final letter should be as detailed as possible on the credit inaccuracy and include any exhibits to show the item does not belong to you.
How To Get Proof of a Credit Error?
Depending on your dispute it is imperative to always include proof of the credit inaccuracy. So for victims of identity theft this generally would include a copy of your driver’s license, any paperwork from the furnisher (or company reporting) that shows the error and lastly a police report and FTC fraud affidavit. An identity theft defense lawyer will help guide you through the last part to get these items. The FTC is the Federal Trade Commission and is a government agency that regulates identity theft. On their website (https://www.identitytheft.gov/#/ ) you can fill out and get a free copy of this affidavit. You should include this affidavit in your last dispute.
To obtain a police report could be a bit more challenging but usually your local police department would investigate and take down the report. Although the police most likely will not assist in getting the items removed they should take a report for you. If the police are giving you a difficult time you could always seek the intervention of an identity theft defense attorney to help get the report. The report would also be included in your last dispute letter to the credit bureaus. If after all your disputes to the credit bureaus and they keep verifying the information as accurate do not worry. It just means you have a stronger case against them.
What Happens if the Credit Mistake is Not Removed?
If the three credit bureaus (and vicariously the furnisher or company who put the item on your report) have kept the item reporting then they have violated a federal law, also known as FCRA. You will have to hire an identity theft defense attorney to file suit against these companies to get the negative information removed. At this stage you could write a hundred dispute letters but the credit bureaus will not delete the item so they are forcing you to file suit. If you have never been in Court before it can seem like a daunting task but this is nothing to fear. The lawyer will do all the heavy lifting and you just need to be responsive to them.
Prior to the lawsuit it is important to save copies of all your adverse credit action letters. This would be if you applied for a loan and were denied. It also applies to any loans or lines of credit you tried to get and were approved for at an unfavorable rate because of the credit error. Any loss of credit lines on a credit card, insurance premiums hikes or any thing bad, credit wise, that happened to you because of these items. The identity theft defense attorney will need these prior to filing suit to show how much this inaccurate account has hurt you. If you do not have any then it would be a good idea to apply for some credit to see how much this item has been hurting you.
What Does an Identity Theft Defense Lawyer Cost?
If you have a case and did the steps above then most credit lawyers will take your lawsuit contingent. What does this mean? Well it is good news for you because you would not pay them directly. The lawyer would get paid by the companies we sue and those funds would be split between the lawyer and you. Although a very different type of law it helps some people to think of it like a car accident case. The lawyer does not get paid unless the case settles or you win at trial. If there is no settlement and we lose then you do not owe the identity theft defense attorney any money. However, if a lawyer is taking your case contingent they believe that there is some merit to your case and that you should be entitled to some monetary compensation.
If you think you have been the victim of identity theft then you should enlist the help of a lawyer as soon as possible. They can ensure you do not make any mistakes, answer any questions and guide you through this challenging process. Any identity theft defense attorney should worth their salt should take your case contingent. At Cook Law, LLC we offer a free consultation to answer any questions and see if you have a case. If you do not, then we should be able to point you in the right direction for help. You do not need to hire a credit repair or debt consolidation or any type of company like this. They are inexperienced, unlicensed and a waste of money. Except for the litigation the dispute process is very easy and you can do all this yourself. If you need the help of an identity theft defense attorney then there is no direct charge to you. If the dispute letters to not get the desired result then you will eventually need to hire a lawyer and file suit to get this resolved any ways.