Are you looking for an identity theft lawyer St Louis? Cook Law, LLC is a law firm based in St Louis, Missouri whose practice revolves around helping people are the victims of identity theft. The law firm is based in St Louis and litigates using the Fair Credit Reporting Act to help identity theft victims. Usually if someone has an identity theft issue it is because a family member or friend steals or borrows your personal information. They then use your identifiers to apply for credit, utilities or loans. Someone will know if they are a victim of identity theft because they either start getting letters and calls regarding a line of credit they did not open or strange items start to appear on their credit report. If this happens to you then you need to immediately seek out an identity theft lawyer St Louis as someone has probably stolen your personal information and is applying for credit in your name. Here are some tips to help you get back your identity.
Initially, an identity theft lawyer St Louis would tell you to keep all copies of the collection letters and delinquent bills that you have been receiving. That way you will know the companies that are trying to collect from you and who have your personal information. Keep this information either in a separate file or saved on your computer. You should then get a free copy of your credit report. You can do this by going to annualcreditreport.com and order a copy of your credit reports. The site will generate a link for your reports. You need to save these credit reports as a PDF onto your file so they are always available to you. Note that there are three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian) and you will need to get all three. These reports are all available from annualcreditreport.com and are free to access one a year. These reports have all of your accounts that you owe money to, which includes banks, credit cards, loans, mortgages, car notes, etc. Usually if a company tries to collect from you or says that you owe them money it is on your credit reports. However, it is possible that you received a collection letter but something is not credit reporting. You should review your credit reports at least two or three times a year and go over it to make sure you recognize all the accounts. If there any accounts appearing you do not recognize this could mean you are the victim of identity theft. The accounts would usually show up on the hard inquiry section or more likely, as an open accounts.
How to Obtain Police Report
After you have done the steps above and ordered copies of your credit reports the identity lawyer st louis notes that you need to file and fill out an FTC fraud affidavit or file and get a copy of a police report. The FTC simply means Federal Trade Commission, which is a government entity that regulates many different businesses, including collections and credit reporting. The local police should be able to help you fill out and get a police report. To do this simply call up the police, ask to speak to an officer or detective and fill out the police report with them. They may ask you a series of questions as to what occurred so they can put that in the report. Make sure you have a narrative ready to provide the officer. What happens if the police will not generate a report? The first thing to try is to be persistent with them and express to the police that you need this report to get the fraudulent accounts removed from your credit. It is imperative to tell the police that you are a victim of identity theft and are at least entitled to a police report. For whatever reason, the officer may not want to draft a police report but do not fret. You can file something called a fraud affidavit with the FTC. It is free and pretty simple to do. All of it can be done online. The link to file it is below or you can just type in your search engine “FTC fraud affidavit.” The link is here https://www.identitytheft.gov/.
The identity theft lawyer st louis would like to express to you that this is not an overnight process and can often times take weeks or months to resolve. If you are persistent you will be able to get your identity back and should be able to be compensated for your time and loss from these companies. Now that you have all the collection letters, delinquent bills, credit reports and you know who is reporting inaccurate information you need to write a detailed written dispute letter to the three credit bureaus. The address for the credit bureaus are 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 lawyer st louis what is a “dispute letter” to the credit bureaus then here is the explanation you are looking for. Simply put, a dispute letter tells the credit bureaus (remember Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) and other debt collectors that you are notifying them that your credit reports contain inaccurate and fraudulent information. You are disputing the validity of these inaccurate accounts that show up on your credit reports and that you are the victim of identity theft. Under the federal law that regulates credit bureaus (the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA) they have to conduct a reasonable investigation into your dispute and mail you the results back of their investigation within 30 days. The result responses could be either the inaccurate item(s) are deleted or modified from your credit reports but usually these items stay reporting. It is important to make sure your dispute letter is very detailed and explains how these are not your accounts and that you are the victim of identity theft. You should also include any exhibits to support your claim as well as a copy of the police report and FTC fraud affidavit with your dispute letter to the credit bureaus. The more detailed of an explanation you provide will either help get you the results you want or set you up for a nice lawsuit against these companies. FCRA is explained below.
What is FCRA?
FCRA is the federal law that controls and regulates all credit reporting activity including the three credit bureaus. This includes banks, collection agencies and the big 3 (Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union). Under FCRA, the credit bureaus and furnishers (ie businesses who report accounts and items to your credit report) can only put on their accurate information. If an account is wrong, you do not owe it, does not belong to you, etc then the bureaus must correct or delete that inaccurate item. Since most of the time they do not do this on their own it is your job to dispute the account with the furnishers and credit bureaus. Do you call the companies, file something online or write a letter? What about using credit karma or calling the fraud hotline for the company? The simple answer is you only need to write the credit bureaus and furnisher a dispute letter. The other options (ie phone, online) are more often then not waste of time and you will not get the results you want. Internet and phone disputes rarely get decided in your favor and are designed to keep the negative and inaccurate accounts on your credit report, just as they are. As the identity theft lawyer st louis we can help you write a detailed dispute letter to get the results you need.
The dispute letter should have all of your personal information (ie name, address, date of birth and social security number. Don’t worry the credit bureaus have this information on you already). They need this information to help identify you and look up your accounts. The dispute letter should also have one, or maybe a two page story, that tells how these accounts are inaccurate and do not belong to you. As stated above, the identity theft lawyer st louis can help you write this letter. Overall, the dispute letter should tell the credit bureaus how they should conduct their investigation (ie what documents do they need to look at, who do they need to call, is there an number they need to have, etc). The letter should also include the “method of verification”. This just means that the credit bureaus and furnishers need to give you copies of all the records they viewed, who they talked to, when they talked to them, what they said, etc so that the credit bureaus actually conducted an investigation and reviewed your dispute. Although the credit bureaus will not do this, it helps set up a claim against them if they do not give you an accurate credit report.
Sample FCRA Dispute Letter
To view a copy of a sample FCRA dispute letter so you can get a template I would go to cooklawyerllc.com (or the home page) and on there it contains a free download of an ebook that not only tells you how to write a dispute letter but also contains secrets and tips on improving your credit score. The other option (and the one suggested) would be to phone Cook Law and to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney. The attorney at Cook Law will help you in either writing a dispute letter or can look over any dispute letters that you have or will send. Cook Law practices is centered on being an identity theft lawyer st louis. Note, that when you mail in your written dispute to the credit bureaus you should also include all documents to show proof of the inaccuracy (ie police report, paid receipt, FTC fraud affidavit, driver’s license, utility bill, etc). Providing the tangible proof that shows this is not your account only strengthens your dispute or would provide a stronger claim against the credit bureaus should you need to sue them later. Make sure that when you mail the dispute letter and exhibits you save copies of what you mailed. Cook Law would also recommend going to the post office and to mail it via tracking so you can see when the items were delivered. This also helps get a response from the credit bureaus as often times they can ignore disputes sent regular mail.
What exactly happens once the credit bureaus receives your written dispute package? Basically they outsource your dispute to a third party company who just forwards either your dispute or a boilerplate one page letter asking the credit furnisher (ie company who put information on your credit) to verify that the the information is proper and accurate. Credit furnishers can also make modifications to your accounts or delete them all together if they are fraudulent, which they sometimes do. However, the furnisher usually just marks your account as accurate and tells the credit bureaus to keep the inaccurate account reporting the same. The furnisher will have too many accounts to deal with to worry about your little account. The next step is that the credit bureaus sends you a boilerplate letter (which you need to save) and it tells you the results of your dispute and their investigation. The account would either be deleted, modified or stay the same. Make sure to save a copy of the credit bureaus letters they send to you. FCRA gives them 30 days to respond to you once they get your written dispute letters so you can expect a response back in about a month.
How Many Dispute Letters Should I Write?
Usually you will need to send several written disputes to the credit bureaus to get the results you want. Cook Law would say two or three times is plenty. The identity theft lawyer st louis indicates that a written dispute (included with the proof you do not owed the accounts or they are inaccurate) is the best way to dispute an item. Although, the credit bureaus probably will not delete or modify the negative accounts they are just setting themselves up for a lawsuit down the road. Once the credit bureaus gets your written dispute, sends a copy to the credit furnisher, and the furnisher verifies the account(s) as accurate, and the bureaus sends you a letter to this effect, you now have a FCRA cause of action, or case against not only credit bureaus but also any credit furnisher.
As identity theft lawyer st louis Cook Law practice focuses on suing the the credit bureaus and credit furnishers to get inaccurate accounts deleted from your credit reports. The phrase lawsuit and lawyer can be scary to most people as it is common to just think of all the costs associated with a lawsuit and the bad things that can occur. This should not be your focus and is not always the case. To get a fraudulent account removed from your credit reports you may have to hire a identity theft lawyer st louis to file a lawsuit on your behalf. Do not be scared or worried because it is not as expensive or negative as someone could think.
Can Identity Theft Lawyer St Louis Help?
If your case is ready to file, and the disputes letters were already sent to the credit bureaus, the negative item remains then you will have to file a lawsuit to get it removed. Cook Law would litigate and sue the credit bureaus under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. As the identity theft victim you should and could be entitled to monetary compensation as well as a clean credit report. FCRA states that you as the victim are entitled to get your lawyer fees, a whole bunch of other types of damages for violations of FCRA. Basically, you could make money off this nightmare and do not have to pay your attorney. The companies you sued should pay them, since they were at fault. As an identity theft lawyer st louis, they will take a case contingent, which simply means that they only get paid from the other the companies we sue and that is regardless for win or lose.
If you are the victim of identity theft it is a horrible ordeal to go through, as well as all the time drain and emotional distress. Not to mention your credit suffering, being denied loans and having higher insurance. It could make it hard to find employment, seek housing or get any type of financing. Do not fret because this horrible experience can be resolved in your favor. Your credit can be restored. Your emotional distress can go away. Cook Law is an experienced and seasoned identity theft lawyer st louis who can assist you with your identity theft issues.
What is Next Step After Disputes?
If you are the victim of identity theft (or someone you know, is) then call Cook Law for a free phone consultation. It can take time to fix your identity theft issues so make sure to begin as early as possible. It is recommended you go and view a free copy of your credit reports now. More often then that people do not know they are victims of identity theft until they need credit and it is too late.
There are many advantages to retain an identity lawyer st louis who can help with the emotional stress of dealing with all this and who is competent in handling identity theft victim cases. Other then your time it does not cost you to get a free consultation. Cook law practice centers around litigating against these credit bureaus, credit furnishers and debt collectors to get yous clean credit and sometimes extra money in your pocket. Contact us today!