Scammers and identity thieves can use your personally identifiable information (PII) to steal money from your bank account, damage your credit, or hurt you in other ways.

You can protect yourself by storing sensitive information securely and promptly reporting errors to the credit bureaus. 

Order Your Credit Reports

Criminals who steal your identity spend sprees using your credit cards and may open new accounts in your name. These new accounts appear on your credit report, which can damage your score.

If you find inaccuracies in your credit reports, it is crucial to take steps to dispute them. You can file a dispute with the credit bureaus that created the reports and the company that supplied the information to them. You should send your dispute letter by certified mail, the return receipt requested.

Attorneys who focus on credit reporting, like Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. can assist you in protecting your identity by reporting the company that provided false information to the Federal Trade Commission and raising a dispute with the credit bureaus. In addition, an attorney can advise you about other steps you may take to protect your identity. For example, you can place a fraud alert on your credit report, requiring businesses that extend credit to contact you in person or over the telephone to verify the request is legitimate.

Review Your Credit Reports

Credit reports are created by the consumer reporting agencies Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion from information submitted by creditors such as banks, credit card companies, mortgage companies, finance companies, department stores, cellular phone companies, and others. The CRAs may also collect the information from public records, court filings, and other sources such as collection agencies.

Only accurate or updated information can cause problems such as a low credit score, being denied loans and mortgages, trouble at work or in housing, problems with security clearances, etc. Those who find inaccurate items on their report can dispute the errors under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Disputing is complex and lengthy, and the help of a skilled credit reporting lawyer can be invaluable. They can review your report and work to correct any mistakes. Credit lawyers can also help you pursue compensation for any damages you have suffered because of the errors in your report.

Dispute Inaccuracies

Inaccurate credit reports are one of consumers’ most common problems and can have serious consequences. Credit reporting agencies must meet a high standard for accuracy. When they fail, the FCRA empowers consumers to have inaccurate information removed from their credit report and, in many cases, also entitles them to compensation.

Sending a written dispute letter to the credit reporting agency and the creditor who reported the wrong information is the first step in resolving inaccuracies on your credit report. They are experienced in writing such letters and can also help you file a claim against the credit reporting agency or creditor for violating the FCRA.

If the CRA or creditor does not correct the inaccurate information after receiving your written dispute, it may be liable for actual damages and attorney fees. Credit lawyers are experienced in litigation against CRAs and creditors for failing to follow the law and will take every necessary step to protect your consumer rights.

Represent You in Court

Credit reporting lawyers well-versed in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) can be constructive if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Identity thieves often use your personal information, including your name, date of birth, and Social Security number, to fraudulently open accounts in your name and run up charges. These charges are then reported on your credit report and can ruin your ability to secure loans or a job.

If the credit bureaus fail to correct an inaccurate report that stemmed from identity theft, a lawyer familiar with the FCRA can file a lawsuit on your behalf. Consumers who win such cases are entitled to statutory damages, actual damages, and reasonable attorney fees.

To find a good credit reporting lawyer, vet them thoroughly. Check with your state bar to see if they’ve had any disciplinary issues, and read their online reviews. It would be best to look for a law firm that offers a free telephone evaluation.