6. Someone has used my Social Security number to open accounts and now debt collection agencies are calling. What should I do?
If your credit report shows that the imposter has opened new accounts in your name, contact those creditors immediately by telephone and in writing (send the letter by certified mail with return receipt requested). Recent amendments to the FCRA (§623(6)(B)) allow you to prevent businesses from reporting fraudulent accounts to the credit bureaus.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a sample dispute letter at
. Creditors will likely ask you to fill out fraud affidavits. The FTC provides an affidavit form that most creditors accept,
. No law requires affidavits to be notarized at your own expense. You may choose to substitute witness signatures for notarization if creditors require verification of your signature.
Make a written request that credit issuers give you copies of the documentation, such as the fraudulent application and transaction records. Both federal and California law give you the right to obtain these documents. (FCRA § 609(e), and California Penal Code 530.8). The California Office of Privacy Protection provides instructions and sample letters for Californians on how to obtain documentation from credit grantors,
A victim of identity theft must provide a copy of the FTC affidavit or another affidavit acceptable to the business, plus government-issued identification, and a copy of an “identity theft report” (police report) in order to obtain the documents created by the imposter. The business must provide copies of these records to the victim within 30 days of the victim's request, at no charge. The law also allows the victim to authorize a law enforcement investigator to have access to these records.
When you have resolved the fraudulent account with the creditor, ask for a letter stating that the company has closed the disputed account and has discharged the debts. Keep this letter in your files. You may need it if the account reappears on your credit report. You must also notify the credit bureaus about the fraudulent accounts.
If debt collectors try to get you to pay the bills on these fraudulent accounts, ask for the name, address and telephone number of the collection agency, and the name of the person contacting you. Tell the caller that you are a victim of fraud and are not responsible for the account. Ask for the name and contact information for the credit issuer, the amount of the debt, account number, and dates of the charges. Ask if they need you to complete their fraud affidavit form or whether you can use the FTC fraud affidavit. Follow up by writing to the debt collector explaining your situation. Ask them to confirm in writing that you do not owe the debt and that the account has been closed.
Under new provisions in the FCRA, a debt collector must notify the creditor that the debt may be a result of identity theft. (§615(g)) The FCRA also prohibits the sale or transfer of a debt caused by identity theft. (§615(f)) For more information about dealing with debt collectors, read our Fact Sheet 27, which has a section for victims of identity theft at