My exwife resides in a different state, and uses my name with her address on her bills. Is this a case of fraud or identity theft?
Identity Theft Lawyer
Identity theft laws are generally a matter of state law as it applies to criminal misconduct. There is not ample information in your inquiry. But at first blush in considering the facts your present, your x using your information could have an impact on your exposure to liability, your credit standing, etc. Put another way, it could be hurting you.
While you may file a civil claim for damages against your x, 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.
Also, I would encourage you to report the ID theft right away. File a report with the police department. Also, complete an identity theft affidavit for good measure. For more guidance on steps you may take to protect your rights, visit http://www.ohioconsumerhelp.com/sub/id-theft.jsp. And you may obtain a form identity theft affidavit at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/resources/forms/affidavit.pdf.
Additionally, you should check your consumer credit reports to see if this information is appearing. 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 www.annualcreditreport.com once per year. I highly encourage consumers to make their request(s) for a free report through annualcreditreport.com. (If you opt to order from any credit bureau, I suggest you NOT do so over the Internet, as there are often certain waivers you agree to when you check that infamous "agree to our terms" box that may preclude your right to recovery in the future).
If anything is appearing on your reports 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 http://naca.net/find-attorney.
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 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.
Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
The FTC says: How do I submit my Identity Theft Report to the credit reporting companies, or to businesses where the thief used my information?
When you send a copy of your Identity Theft Report to the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting companies, include a copy of the credit reporting company cover letter, along with copies of your supporting documentation. Send your information by certified mail with return receipt requested. The mailing addresses for sending Identity Theft Reports to the three major credit reporting companies are on the cover letter.
When writing to the fraud departments of each of the companies where the identity thief has committed fraud using your personal information, include copies of the Identity Theft Report, your supporting documentation, and the appropriate cover letter: for fraud on your existing accounts, or for fraud on new accounts. Always send this information by certified mail, with a return receipt requested.
The credit reporting companies have certain timeframes for responding to your Identity Theft Report with requests for additional information.
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What do I do if the police only take reports about identity theft over the Internet or telephone?
The FTC ID Theft Complaint has a special section for police reports that are not filed face-to-face, to help you use it to supplement an automated police report. If you file a police report online or over the phone, complete the “Automated Report Information” block of the ID Theft Complaint. Attach a copy of any filing confirmation received from the police.
If you have a choice, however, you should file your police report in person and not use an automated report. It is more difficult for the consumer reporting company and information provider to verify the information in an automated report, and they will likely require additional information and/or documentation.
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What do I do if the local police won't take a report?
There are efforts at the federal, state and local level to ensure that local law enforcement agencies understand identity theft, its impact on victims, and the importance of taking a police report. However, we still hear that some departments are not taking reports. The following tips may help you to get a report if you're having difficulties:
Provide the officer with a copy of the Law Enforcement Cover Letter that explains why the police report and the Identity Theft Report are so important to both victims and industry.
Furnish as much documentation as you can to prove your case. Debt collection letters, credit reports, a copy of your printed ID Theft Complaint, and other evidence of fraudulent activity can help demonstrate the legitimacy of your case. Provide the police a copy of "Remedying the Effects of Identity Theft," which shows that police reports are necessary to secure your rights.
Be persistent if local authorities tell you that they can't take a report. Stress the importance of a police report; many creditors require one to resolve your dispute. Remind them that consumer reporting companies will automatically block the fraudulent accounts and bad debts from appearing on your credit report, but only if you can give them a copy of the police report. In addition, a police report may be needed to obtain the fraudulent application and other records the company has.
If you're told that identity theft is not a crime under your state law, ask to file a Miscellaneous Incident Report instead.
If you can't get the local police to take a report, try your county police. If that doesn't work, try your state police.
Some states require the police to take reports for identity theft. Check with the office of your State Attorney General, which can be found at www.naag.org, to find out if your state has this law.
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