Identity theft can happen to anyone. One day you notice some unauthorized charges on your credit card or debit card. Or perhaps a letter arrives in the mail asking you to pay thousands of dollars to a creditor you’ve never heard of. But the dun has your name, your address, and soon the collector starts calling your phone number. What do you do?
The first thing you need to know is that the law is clear: you are not liable for debts that you did not incur. Nor can the bank take your money for credit or debit card charges that you did not authorize.
Banks, debt collectors, credit card companies, and credit reporting agencies know that. That’s why if you inform them that a debt they’re trying to collect or reporting in your name was incurred by someone else, they are supposed to stop collecting from you and find out who the real borrower is. If they don’t, then they’re breaking the law and you need to find an attorney to make them pay.
If someone else’s bills are appearing on your credit report, the first thing you need to do is dispute those accounts with the credit reporting agency. Just identify yourself, identify the accounts that are bogus, and tell them to delete them immediately. The credit bureau has 30 days to fix it. If they don’t, call me.
If you notice unauthorized charges on your credit card statement, you need to send a written dispute to the credit card company. The letter should state your name & address and the account number of the card associated with the fraudulent transactions. The letter should also identify each transaction that was not made or authorized by you. Finally, the letter should demand a specific amount of money be refunded. Just add up the bogus charges and ask the bank to return that amount of money to your account.
Once they get your dispute, the law prescribes a time limit for them to conduct their investigation. Debit cards are governed by the Electronic Fund Transfers Act, which says that disputes must be resolved within 10 days, or the bank has to refund the money. 15 U.S.C. 1693f. Credit cards get more leeway, as they are governed by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which says that the credit card company can take up to 2 billing cycles (which almost always means 2 months) to resolve the dispute. 15 U.S.C. 1666.
If they fail to follow the proper dispute process or fail to accurately resolve your dispute, you can take them to federal court for all the damages they have caused you, plus court costs and attorneys’ fees. We take these cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t collect anything unless we win!
If you have had unauthorized charges on your credit or debit card and they have not been corrected, call our office today and we can discuss your legal options. 251.272.9148.