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Can I press charges against a woman who knowing used my social security number?

Eugene, OR |

I recently went to a job center were I was informed I could not set up an account because my social was on another account. Three hours later the DHS informs me, they too, have an account with my social on it but not my name. They said "I cannot give you any further information except it is a woman, and she has a 'Slavic' name. I don't know what they meant by 'Slavic' but I am extremely unhappy. What are my legal rights here in Oregon?

Attorney Answers 3


While you may file a civil claim for damages against the identity thief, tracking them down, and then actually collecting on a judgment may be an entirely different story. You should contact a local attorney to explore your legal rights and available remedies under state and federal law.

Additionally, report the ID theft with local law enforcement right away. File a report with your police department and complete an identity theft affidavit. You may obtain an identity theft affidavit at

For more guidance on steps you may take to protect your rights, visit

Additionally, you should check your consumer credit reports to see if this false information is appearing. Often when identity thieves strike, they open fraudulent accounts in their victim’s name. Inaccurate information can affect your access to favorable credit terms, employment, and even insurance. You may obtain a free copy of your credit reports from the three national credit bureaus at once per year.

If anything is appearing on your report(s) that is not attributable to you, I would encourage you to seek the assistance of an attorney familiar with the federal law applicable to credit reporting (the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA). For an attorney in your area, visit

Many consumer advocates will consult with you without charge or obligation. This is the best first step in protecting your legal rights, and understanding the protections available to you under state and federal law. During your consultation, be sure to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of placing a fraud alert on your consumer file to protect against further harm to you and your good name.

Good luck to you!!

NOTE: This Answer does not constitute legal advice. Every case is fact specific. To render a legal opinion, an attorney must engage in a consultation with a prospective client and review any pertinent documents. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship with Attorney Amy L. Wells or WELLS LAW OFFICE, INC.

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There really isn't any such thing as "pressing charges." Criminal charges are investigated by the police and brought before the court by the District Attorney (or United States Attorney, for Federal cases). Private citizens can report crimes to the police and can cooperate with the DA in their case, which is usually what we mean when we talk about "pressing charges," but that's all they can do. No person, not even a crime victim, can legally compel (or refuse to allow) a criminal prosecution. So you can certainly call the police to report the incident, but you may want to do some other things first:

The events you describe are somewhat odd. It's very strange that the DHS people would tell you this person's ethnicity, but nothing else. It's not guaranteed that this is a case of identity theft. It might be a simple clerical error. The agency should have an internal review process, to deal with these issues. Ask them about it. They'll probably want proof of your SSN - a social security card and other ID. See what they need you to do, to show that the number is yours.

That said, if it is an identity theft issue, you need to be sure of taking care of it. Notify your bank that this has happened and check your accounts to be sure no unauthorized withdrawals have happened lately. If any have, then you should certainly call the police.

Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin, Northwest Law Office, 2075 SW First Avenue, Suite 2J, Portland, OR 97201 | Telephone: 503-227-0965 | Facsimile: 503-345-0926 | Email: | Online:

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This happens much more frequently than you would think. Many times when we file a disability claim for a client, they have to personally visit the SS office because someone else is using their SSN. Go to you SS office and clarify the issue. If you have not had any negative credit history issues it is likely just someone with a number that is close to yours and remembered it as hers instead. Most applications that request a SSN have no way of verifying the accuracy. As such, they get messed up all the time.

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