News & Resources

ID theft victims unaware of their rights

Apr 01, 2012 Karen Umpierre

In many cases, a regular person does not realize that their identity has been stolen until they check their consumer credit report, apply for a loan or begin receiving calls from debt collectors. Once people realize that someone has been making fraudulent purchases under their name, they are often lost, not knowing what to do next. Credit reporting agencies need to be aware of consumer rights. According to The Epoch Times, all American adults have a right to a free credit report every year, but people who have had their identity stolen are also entitled to additional free reports. Furthermore, the source noted, victims can have a fraud alert placed on their credit report after the theft has occurred and they also have the right to contest information on the report. The Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database and part of the Federal Trade Commission, found identity theft was the most common complaint category in 2010, with 19 percent. The database's evidence also showed government documents and benefits to be the most common type of identity theft, followed by credit card fraud and phone or utilities fraud. Credit reporting agencies can also be of help to consumers should their identity be stolen. Sixty-eight percent of victims had positive experiences with an agency when trying to get their funds back in order, an FTC survey found recently. The survey noted that less than half of identity theft victims are aware of their legal rights, a field where reporting agencies could be of service.