415-441-8669 | TOLL FREE: 888-50EVANS

Jun 11, 2018 by |

San Francisco and California Banking and Consumer Fraud Attorneys: What To Do When You Are A Victim Of Identity Theft

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Actions You Can Take

Notifying Bank, Lender and Credit Reporting Agencies

Each year millions of Americans are victims of identity theft. Thieves access bank accounts, credit cards, online payment services, and home equity lines of credit. You need to know what you should do and what your rights are in such circumstances. The California Identity Theft Act (CITA) and federal laws like the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), are designed to help you, but you need to follow certain steps, explained below.

Ultimately, you may need counsel to help enforce your State and federal rights.  The San Francisco and California fraud and banking attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent consumers whose credit ratings have been adversely affected by misleading or inaccurate information on their credit reports posted by reporting lenders, banks, credit card companies and credit bureaus.  If you or a loved one has suffered a loss as a result of identity theft adversely affecting your credit rating, call us today at (415)441-8669.  We handle cases in San Francisco and throughout California.

What You Should Do First

Always begin by reporting the theft to the police. Get a police report and then send it to the bank or credit card company along with a letter like the sample below.  Once you report the theft to your bank or credit card company, they are required to investigate the transaction and remove or at the least flag the debt on your credit rating as disputed and under investigation.

Sample Letters Reporting The Fraud

Here is a sample letter you can use to write your bank or creditor:

Date

 

Your Name

Your Address

Your City, State, Zip Code

Your Account Number

 

Name of Creditor/Bank

Billing Inquiries

Address

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute a fraudulent [charge or debit] on my account in the amount of $______.

I am a victim of identity theft, and I did not make this [charge or debit]. I am requesting that the

[charge be removed or the debit reinstated], that any finance and other charges related to the

fraudulent amount be credited, as well, and that I receive an accurate statement.

Enclosed are copies of [use this sentence to describe any enclosed information, such as a police

report] supporting my position. Please investigate this matter and correct the fraudulent [charge or debit] as soon as possible. I would appreciate a response from you in writing. Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

You should also notify credit reporting agencies of the fraudulent activity on your account. Here is a sample letter you can use for that:

Date

Your name
Your address
Your city, state, zip code

Name of CRA [Equifax, Experian, Trans Union]
Address
City, state, zip code

Dear Sir or Madam:

After reviewing my credit report, I am writing to dispute the following inaccurate information. I am listing each item along with the way it should be corrected:

[Account name]  [Account number]  [How it should report / Why it’s inaccurate*]

[Account name]  [Account number]  [How it should report / Why it’s inaccurate*]

[Account name]  [Account number]  [How it should report / Why it’s inaccurate*]

Supporting documents have been enclosed. Pursuant to the FCRA, please forward them to the credit furnishers. If you are not going to forward them, please inform me so I may do so myself.

Sincerely,

(sign here)

Your name
Your Social Security Number
Your Date of Birth

Enclosures: (list what you are enclosing – examples: police report, fraud affidavit, proof of payment, etc)

*Note: The more detailed and specific information you give, the better.

Once you have notified the creditor and/or credit reporting agency, you cannot always rely on the credit card company, bank or credit bureau to process the disputed debt correctly. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) can protect you in these circumstances but you may need to reach out to counsel such as the lawyers at Evans Law Firm, Inc. to assert your rights.

How The Laws Protect You

The California Identity Theft Act (CITA) forces creditors and debt collectors to investigate the claim of fraudulent activity once you have notified them of the theft. Cal. Civ. Code § 1798.93(a).   Once proper notice is given if the creditor or debt collector still pursues you for payment of fraudulent charges, you may bring an action against the creditor or debt collector to establish that you are the victim of identity theft in connection with those charges and may obtain damages and other relief against the creditor for their collection activities. Cal. Civ. Code § 1798.93(a); Peters v. Discover Bank, U.S. App. LEXIS 7254, at*1-2 (9th Cir. 2016). The notice to the claiming creditor or debt collector must include a police report of the theft. Cal. Civ. Code § 1798(a)(6)(A). The creditor then has thirty days to investigate the fraudulent debt.  If, after the thirty-day period expires, the creditor continues its collection activity against the victim, the consumer is entitled to bring a lawsuit.

Federal laws also protect you. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) limits liability for unauthorized transactions in consumer accounts, but not business or corporate accounts.  If you have linked personal and business accounts, banks may push back claiming that an unauthorized transaction is on a business account not covered by the TILA liability limitations.  Seek counsel if your bank or lender raises such a claim on an unauthorized use you know to be personal; do not accept the bank’s response as final.  Courts will look at all of the circumstances to determine if your claim is personal (i.e., consumer) and covered by the Act.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) will protect you from any adverse effect the unauthorized transactions can have on your credit rating. The FCRA holds banks and lenders accountable for posting inaccurate information or misinformation about transactions (debts) in your account to credit agencies and bureaus.  If you have reported an unauthorized use of your credit card or home equity line, for example, the credit card company or lender has a responsibility to investigate the transaction and to note in any information it furnishes to a credit bureau that the charge or charges are in dispute.  If they fail to do so, you can bring a lawsuit to enforce your rights.

In particular, the FCRA requires the bank furnishing information to a credit agency to (1) conduct an investigation with respect to any disputed charge; (2) review all relevant entries on the consumer’s report; and, (3) report the results of its investigation to the credit bureau. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b)(1).  If the bank finds that the information on the consumer’s report is incomplete or inaccurate, the bank must take further steps to correct the information, delete it, or permanently block the reporting of the information. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b)(1)(E).  These are precise demands on the reporting bank and important rights for aggrieved consumers, but you may need counsel to help you enforce those rights.

The Take Away

The take away here is for you to know your rights under consumer laws meant to protect you. You cannot rely on banks, lenders, credit card companies and credit bureaus to handle your disputed transactions correctly.  If they don’t, your credit rating suffers and so do you.  But that does not have to be the end of it.  All of these California and federal statutes provide remedies for you when banks, lenders, credit card companies, and credit bureaus violate the laws meant to protect you.  If they have, seek out qualified counsel, such as the San Francisco and California banking and credit reporting attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. to help you.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love is the victim of any type of identity theft and loss under the California Identity Theft Act, the Truth in Lending Act and/or the Fair Credit Reporting Act, call Ingrid Evans and the other San Francisco and California banking and credit reporting attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>. Our attorneys also have experience with fraud and financial elder abuse cases, physical elder abuse cases, and complex qui tam or whistleblower cases, complex financial contract cases and cases against large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement.  We also handle cases involving whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.

Million Dollar Advocates Forum SuperLawyers Badge Best Lawyers Badge Avvo Lawyer Badge

Our Passion For Justice

415-441-8669 888-50EVANS

Hear What Our Clients Have To Say

"I contacted Attorney Ingrid Evans for advice about a financial elder abuse case. She was extremely knowledgeable, bright and informative. I highly recommend her. I am an attorney myself, and know when I am talking to a another excellent attorney."