Police and card issuer need to know about the crime
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Dear To Her Credit,
If someone is using my identity, but keeping up with the payments, shouldn’t I still report them? Wouldn’t they still be stealing and benefiting from my name? — Yvette
Yes and yes! You should report this immediately. Not only is this person stealing and benefiting from your name, but the use of your identity can cause you, the banks and other innocent parties all kinds of problems in the future.
The thief may not stop with opening credit card accounts in your name. Once she is established as you, she can run up hospital and other medical bills in your name, file for your tax refund and see how many of your financial accounts she can get into. Using your identity for a small account may be just a test stage in a larger plan to take your name, your money and anything else she can get her hands on, before she moves on to the next victim.
Besides, having someone out there calling themselves “Yvette” and charging things in your name is just a little creepy, don’t you think?
If you knowingly allow other people to use your identity, perhaps because it doesn’t seem like it’s hurting anything if they keep up with the payments, you could be construed as being party to the crime. When they stop making payments at some point, or when they move on to bigger targets, like emptying your bank account, you’ll have a harder time undoing all the damage.
You owe it not just to yourself, but to the credit card companies and other lenders who are being taken in by the thief, to report this crime immediately. Here’s how:
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports to stop thieves from opening additional cards in your name. You only need to call one of these three national credit bureaus:
- Equifax, 800-525-6285
- TransUnion, 800-680-7289
- Experian, 888-397-3742
2. File a police report with your local police station. This is very important — don’t skip this step. You’ll need a copy of the report to prove you were a victim of identity theft crime.
3. Contact the fraud department of the card issuer for which the thief was using the card. You should also contact them in writing, and provide a copy of the police report.
4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, using its online complaint form.
No breach of security, including unauthorized charges on a card or identity theft, is ever OK. Take any suspicion of identity theft seriously to take good care of yourself and your credit.