Reporting Christian Identity Theft
Reporting Christian identity theft is an extremely important thing to do immediately upon realizing that a crime has been perpetrated upon someone's most personal space, his own identity. Because this kind of theft often takes place without the victim knowing about it for weeks or months, an extremely large amount of damage can be done to a person's credit and reputation. This damage may take hundreds of dollars to repair and the reputation may take years to revive. Consequently, reporting identity theft as quickly as possible is a very large factor in minimizing the damage that these thieves can inflict. It is not unusual for there to be actual bankruptcies filed under the name of the victim after the criminal has used up every bit of credit card balances and other good faith loan provisions that were intended for the victim of the crime.
One of the first places a person can go in reporting identity theft when there is real suspicion of being a victim of this crime is to the Federal Trade Commission which is the country's consumer protection agency. This agency collects complaints about companies, business practices, the stealing of a person's most personal information and even episodes of violence in the media. This agency may be able to help law enforcement agencies link similar crimes in the same area and perhaps bring a swift end to a criminal's career. Going to the FTC's website can give a person a great deal of information about the procedures on dealing with this crime. In fact, the FTC will have links to many other resources for getting help at a very distressing time.
But before contacting the Federal Trade Commission's website, reporting identity theft should begin with the contacting of the credit bureau's that report and manage credit scores. Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are the three major bureaus and when one is contacted, that bureau will contact the other two. The Federal Trade Commission does not recommend contacting Experian because callers are exposed to a sales pitch that can end up costing the caller money. The recently passed Fair Credit Reporting Act allows a victim to place a report of fraud for ninety days. During that time, a victim will need to present a police report and show evidence of someone trying to open fraudulent accounts or unauthorized use of already existing accounts. A seven year fraud alert may be placed on the victim's credit accounts, meaning that any attempt to open new accounts must be reported to the victim for permission.
Reporting identity theft also means that a victim must ask for a copy of his credit reports. One free report from each of the bureaus is available by law each year to every consumer. This is in addition to the free credit reports that are given when a consumer reports a fraud to the three credit bureaus. This makes it possible for a victim to check his credit history at least twice a year to look for more signs of fraud. A careful scrutiny of each report will give the victim an opportunity to note all anomalies and each bureau is then required to block all future information regarding those discrepancies from inquiries made by lenders, employers, etc. Making clear and decisive moves as quickly as possible lessens the impact upon a victim's credit standing.
Once all of the reporting identity theft steps have been taken by a victim, there are still issues to be faced. For instance, if current credit or debit accounts are being used, a person must request new cards immediately. There will be forms to fill out and they should be sent to the address where billing inquiries are sent, not to the payments address. If debt collectors begin calling to collect on fraudulent unpaid bills, the victim must make sure to get all the information from the collector such as name of the company and the collector, phone number and address. In addition, wiring to the collection agency with copies of the fraud report filed with the credit bureaus is very important. A person needs to ask the collection agency to send a letter in wiring that the account is closed so far as they are concerned.
Reporting identity theft to the Social Security Administration will not be fruitful. This agency does not get involved in the criminal use of another person's ten digit number for fraudulent purposes. But they will respond to social security benefit fraud, employment fraud or welfare fraud. One of the great assurances that Christians have through even such trying times as identity theft, sickness and even the death of a loved one is the ongoing comfort of God. "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5)
Reporting identity theft is a time consuming and often frustrating experience. Most of us want something done the very moment we demand it to be done, yet with this process in place for reporting such crime, it is often weeks or months before the fire is put out. And in some cases, it may take years and thousands of dollars to resolve. Passports, phone service, student loans, driver license misuse and many other issues can come into play with such a crime. Don't give up in hopelessness and remember that many other people have already gone through this mess before you. It will be resolved, and you can get your good name back!
Stolen Christian IdentityAnyone who has experienced a stolen identity knows the pain and frustration of repairing the damage that was done to both the reputation and the wallet. Since this method of theft can be so easily achieved and so slowly detected, many victims do not know that this crime has been perpetrated against them until long after the initial offense. Criminals gain access to the vital personal information of their victims in a number of ways. It could have begun as simply as the theft of a wallet or purse. Some offenders will stand behind a victim as that individual is using an ATM machine, memorizing important numbers. Other thieves may consult a credit report service and pretend to be a landlord or employer to gain access to the personal information of an intended victim. Mailboxes can hold a treasure trove of ammunition for someone seeking to take advantage of a stolen identity. And these thieves do not always work alone. They may draw upon the help of fellow criminals who tap into personnel files at their place of work. This information can be sold at a profit to unscrupulous individuals. If a consumer has become a victim of an identity thief, the sooner that they realize this, the better. It will be much easier to repair any damage that has been done if the crime is detected early. And awareness of the problem and precautionary steps can help to keep this crime from happening in the first place.
There are many preventative steps that a consumer can do to ward off the possibility of dealing with a stolen identity. A wallet or purse that is filled with multiple credit cards, social security cards, passports, birth certificates or other sensitive items just makes an identity thief's job just that much simpler through easy access to all of this data. Services that report credit scores compile large marketing lists and will sell these lists to various organizations. This will frequently lead to a mail box that is stuffed with offers for pre approved credit cards and loans. If a thief gets hold of this correspondence, they can easily open a charge account in the consumer's name and proceed to buy whatever they want, digging a massive debt for the unsuspecting victim. Public trash cans are a foolish place to throw away sensitive information such as credit account receipts. If the worst happens and a consumer finds that they have a stolen identity, there are things that should be done right away. These steps include closing down all charge accounts, placing a fraud alert on the individual's credit report, and filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. A thief will often open new charge accounts and change the billing address so that the victim never receives the bills. This way, the thief can continue to run up debt with no one the wiser. Charge accounts are not the only thing that a thief may open up. Some thieves will even open up accounts for utilities in a victim's name.
Once an individual has experienced a stolen identity, an initial fraud alert should be placed on that individual's credit report. In most cases, this initial alert will remain in place for around ninety days. This will require that any creditors or lenders who receive an application in the victim's name take extra precautions before extending credit. Such precautions will involve following certain procedures in the verification of the applicant's identification. Hopefully, these procedures will keep a thief from making fraudulent charges. It is not uncommon, however, for a request for credit to make it through in spite of any extra precautions. Fraud alerts can also be extended and remain on the report for seven years. The reasons for extending the alert could include gaining access to two free credit reports each year rather than just one, and having a consumer's name and address removed from various marketing lists. Having a fraud alert placed on a personal report will usually slow down the process of obtaining credit, but is worth it for anyone who feels that their identity is in danger. In some states, consumers can also freeze their credit, severely restricting anyone from using a consumer's good name to build up debt. Freezing credit can usually be accomplished for a small fee. There are certain areas such as cell phones and other accounts that do not require a credit check. A thief could easily bypass a credit freeze by establishing accounts in these areas in the name of the stolen identity.
Most victims report that having a stolen identity is not only financially devastating, but it can be a very difficult thing to cope with. Even though facing the theft of personal identity can be very stressful, there are options to remedy the situation and organizations that can help. Reaching out to the appropriate agencies and seeking wise counsel can help resolve this very troubling situation. The Bible talks about the promise that God makes to those who endure temptation and persevere. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (James 1:12)
Some stolen identity victims report that local law enforcement agencies are of limited help when a theft of this nature occurs. If local agencies are not willing to take a report, there are a few things that a Christian consumer can do. Providing local officials with as much evidence and documentation as possible may help. Filing a police report is very important because this report can secure certain rights for the victim. After taking all of the necessary steps and precautions, a consumer can not only correct this situation, but also survive it.