Credit Card Applications and Identity Theft

Identity thieves steal identities by retrieving credit card offers from trash cans and the filling sending them in using their own addresses. Law professor Jeff Sovern reports that he told his class the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the credit card issuers to allow consumers to opt out of the applications (15 U.S.C. § 1681b(e)), thus reducing the likelihood that an identity thief will steal their identity. But most people don’t opt out and instead tear up the applications and his students brought up a MSNBC story about how a consumer tore an application up, then taped it back together,...

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Identity Theft Leads in Numbers of Consumer Complaints

The FTC reports that identity theft was the number one consumer complaint it and other federal agencies it and they receive from consumers in 2010. The agency annually publishes what it calls the Sentinel Network of consumer complaints. Last year, 6,460 California residents reported they were the victims of identity theft, which was 17% of all consumer complaints. Younger consumers were victims more often than older persons. California was #3 in the U.S. in terms of complaints of identity theft among the states adjusted for population.

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Large Jury Verdict Against Equifax in Identity Theft Case

Equifax has a judgment against it for more than a million dollars to a Bay Area man whose identity was stolen. While the consumer was hospitalized, an impostor used his identity to open fraudulent accounts. He found the fraudulent accounts on his credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion and disputed them. (See my blog on why to dispute in writing, Certified Mail, Return Receipt.. Equifax went to trial. The identity theft victim told the jury about trying to get Equifax to correct his report. Other witnesses testified about his damages. His expert explained why Equifax’s procedures fail to meet...

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Service Members Risk Identity Theft

A new report by West Point Prof. Gregory Conti urges the military to reform its practices to protect service members from identity theft. Conti reports that service members and their families are burdened with a work environment that shows little regard for their personal information resulting in frequent theft of their identities. The Navy and Marines have recently made efforts to limit the use of social security numbers. Military ID cards no longer include the number. But Conti said the situation had not really changed: “The farther you get away from the flagpole at headquarters, those policies get overturned by...

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FTC’s ID Theft Project

The Federal Trade Commission has a site for ID theft victims that covers every type of ID theft. The site has advice for consumers on how they may protect themselves against ID theft and what to do when their ID is stolen. The FTC has also made available a guidebook for assisting identity theft victims. For example, the guide details how consumers may get assistance in resolving ID theft, sample letters to send to credit reporting agencies and creditors, and the best way to dispute claims by debt collectors.

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