Identity Theft & The IRS

QUESTION: A company that I used to work for opened a PayPal account using my name and SS #. Is this identity theft? 

A company that I used to work for opened a PayPal account using my name and SS #. I stopped working there in 2008. I was contacted by the IRS that I had unclaimed income on my 2012 return and was asked to pay over $10,000 plus interest. This was for monies payed by PayPal to the company and not to me. Although they have now admitted that the payments were sent to them and not me I am concerned that they may have used my name and SS# for other accounts which the IRS will come after me for. Should I – a) file a stolen ID report with the Police and b) take legal action against this company?

ANSWER: This sort of identity theft is becoming more and more common: the victim’s social security number is used to avoid paying taxes; or worse, the victim’s social security number is used to get access to a tax refund.

I would suggest you complain to the local police department. If you have sufficient information about the company that stole your ID, you may want to pursue it as well.

From a consumer rights perspective: I strongly urge you to check your credit bureau reports. You may obtain a free copy of your reports through www.AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find any suspicious information, you should immediately contact the credit bureaus and have a fraud alert issued. I would also suggest you contact a consumer rights attorney that can help you wade through the credit reporting mess. Most consumer rights attorneys do not charge an upfront fee for their time and will work on a contingency.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship with Karni Law Firm until a contract is signed by the attorney and the client.

 

Reporting Credit Card Fraud

QUESTION: Do the local police bother to report a credit card fraud? I heard on another website that Federal Trade Commission rarely investigates a case that is less than $2000, right?

ANSWER: The Federal Trade Commission does not publish its criteria for actually enforcing consumer rights. In my experience, the FTC will only go after an individual or a company that has violated the rights of many consumers.

Generally, the local police may not have the resources to pursue fraud charges. Nevertheless, if you are the victim of any fraud or identity theft, you are encouraged to lodge your complaints with the authorities. I recommend that people complain to the following organizations:

1) your local police;
2) the Federal Trade Commission;
3) the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
4) the local Better Business Bureau; and
5) the Attorney General.

Ultimately, even if none of these organizations will do anything proactive for you, you will have a copy of the reports (or complaints) that you will need to send back to the credit card company and/or the credit bureaus to clear your name.

If the police report does not satisfy the credit card company, you might want to go one step further with an affidavit. Depending on the extent of damage to you, you may want to contact a consumer rights attorney to assist in drafting your affidavit.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship with Karni Law Firm until a contract is signed by the attorney and the client.

 

Mail Theft & Fraud

QUESTION: Mail theft and possibly fraud. Ex girlfriend stole. Illegal?

I found out that my ex had both stolen my keys, in addition to a few packages out of mailbox. Not on lease, not married.

ANSWER: Yes, this sounds illegal. If you have concerns that she is also stealing your credit, I would suggest you request a fraud alert with the credit bureaus. I would also suggest that you monitor your credit reports on a regular basis going forward. You may obtain a free copy of your credit reports once every year from each of the three credit bureaus at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. If you discover that accounts were taken out in your name, you will want to file a police report. Send that police report to the original creditors and the credit bureaus in order to clear your name. If the accounts are not removed from your name, you would have grounds to sue under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship with Karni Law Firm until a contract is signed by the attorney and the client.

If I change my SSN what happens to my debt?

QUESTION: If I change my SSN what happens to my debt? I received a letter in the mail today about an inquiry for credit that I never requested. I don’t know if someone else has my information and/or what damage may have been done that I haven’t noticed. I know I have some debt of my own, but would changing my social security number be like a poor man’s bankruptcy or would it still follow me over to the new number?

ANSWER: The Social Security Administration does not allow anyone, even victims of identity theft, to switch out their old social security number for a new one very easily. While it may be possible to get a new SSN, it is extremely difficult and rare.

I would suggest you pull a free copy of your credit reports through www.AnnualCreditReport.com. That website was designed to follow Federal Trade Commission regulation to allow every consumer one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. It will link you directly to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

In reviewing your credit reports, you will want to see whether there are any new accounts that you do not recognize. You can also have a look at the back of the credit report to see whether there are inquiries made by companies that you did not authorize. Hard inquiries are usually made before a lender extends new credit. There are also soft inquiries that are usually made by your existing lenders just to check up on you.

You can request a short-term or long-term fraud alert be linked to your social security number. You should also call the company that mailed you the letter and ask what it’s all about. If you are going to let that bank, or anyone else know that your identity has been stolen, you should send certified mail with a return receipt so that you have a paper trail. You may also want to file a police report that you can attach to your letter to lenders and the major consumer reporting agencies.

Finally, you may want to consult with an attorney. Most attorneys who handle consumer credit and debt collection abuse cases do not charge their clients an up front fee. The reason for this is because the Fair Credit Reporting Act (as well as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) allow consumers to collect damages as well as their attorney fees and court costs.

I wish you luck.

These materials have been prepared by Karni Law Firm, P.C. for educational and informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. This communication does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dana Karni or of Karni Law Firm, P.C. or any of its attorneys, employees, or clients, and are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This site is not intended to create, and access to or receipt of information included in this site does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. No one should act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. Although we would be pleased to communicate with you by e-mail or otherwise, do not send us information until you speak with one of our lawyers and get authorization to send that information to us. Please be aware that if you communicate with us by e-mail or otherwise in connection with a matter for which we do not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential. If you communicate with us by e-mail in connection with a matter for which we already represent you, please remember that Internet e-mail is not secure and you may wish to take steps to encrypt sensitive or confidential materials before sending them on the Internet.