What to Do if You’re in Debt Due to Identity Theft

Crime is an unfortunate reality, and any area where people operate has the potential for a criminal element. For example, during the first half of 2019, the Houston Police Department received over 90,000 crime reports. With the rise of technology, many of today’s crimes occur online. One of the most potentially devastating of these online crimes is identity theft.

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when unscrupulous people access your personal information and use it to purchase merchandise illegally or to place it in unauthorized bank accounts. People who steal your identity can use it to get bank loans or to commit cyber crimes in your name. They can also use it as an identity to travel by air.

These crimes have a widespread effect because of the money the fraudsters steal from you, and because it can potentially ruin your business or personal reputation. According to ConsumerAffairs, the number of reported identity theft cases has increased by almost 600% during the last 20 years.

Call Your Bank or Creditor

When you discover you are the victim of identity theft, contact your bank. They will want to know which of the transactions was authorized by you. Since you and your bank will wish for the fraudulent activity to stop, the bank will put a ‘stop’ on your checks.

Call the bank as soon as you discover the ID theft. Your bank will investigate if the person who stole your identity takes money from your account. Once the bank confirms that the money was stolen without your knowledge, they will usually refund the money. You won’t be liable for any of the fraudulent charges made by the fraudster.

You May Unintentionally Participate in ID Theft

There are times when you can be an unintentional part of the fraud. You may be contacted by an identity thief and threatened – or tricked – by a criminal. Criminals may pretend they’re your relative and need money for an operation or car repairs. Other criminals may blackmail you into sending money to them.

If the investigation into the crime shows you sent the person money voluntarily, you may not be able to get the money back. If you transfer money via bank transfer to a fraudster, this is called a ‘push payment scam,’ and different rules apply to these. Your bank’s fraud department will be able to help guide you to the next steps you can take.

Make a Complaint

If you are not satisfied with the response you received during the reporting process of this crime, you should contact the company that provided the problematic service. If they do not respond to your complaint within eight weeks, you should contact the FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service.) They can assist with your complaint.

What Do I Do After It Happens?

Depending on how large a debt the crime caused, your finances can take a long time to recover. Use this occurrence to remind you to check your bank balance every day. Don’t enter your credit card information online unless you absolutely trust the website. Be careful where you post details that contain your financial information.

Remember: when you first see an irregularity in your bank account, call your bank. Don’t allow the crime to extend for longer than necessary. If the bank freezes your account now, it will prevent your bank balance from being decimated by the fraudster. If you delay, you may be held legally responsible for the debt. According to Legal Jobs, 97% of bankruptcies are filed by individuals.

Identity theft can cause severe financial problems. Contact the bank as soon as you know you’re a victim of identity theft so your bank can act as quickly as possible. Although this crime will play havoc with your financial situation, you can put the solution into action by contacting your bank.

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