IDENTITY THEFT || REPAIRING BAD CHECKS
Your wallet or purse was stolen. You reported it to the police. You
either have, or are waiting for a police report. Notices of bad checks
ostensibly written by you have begun to arrive in the mail.
These notices will contain information regarding the bad check, to
whom it was written, the amount, the check number, the date written,
the fee, and a reference number. There is also a contact number
for the check recovery service.
Call that number. Most likely you will encounter a phone tree.
Wait for the prompt that is closest to a fraud department. If that
is not available, try to get through to an operator. Give them your
reference number. Tell them you are a robbery victim, and the
checks involved were not written by you.
IMPORTANT - Ask to have copies of the disputed checks
faxed or mailed to you.
Do not expect these people to be nice. They consider you guilty until
you have proven yourself innocent.
Ask them what information they need you to provide as proof that you are an identity theft victim. Each agency is different, but generally speaking, you will probably need the following paperwork to prove that you did not write the bad checks.
You will have to send these packets (Affidavit of Forgery, Police Report, Driver's License, bank statement) to all of the Check Recovery Services involved. If you're smart, you can create ready-to-go packets to mail.
Send this packet of information to all of the Check Service companies.
A list of them is included below:
- Affidavit of Fraud - ask the Check Service for one of these to fill out
- Copy of the police report
- Copy of your driver's license
- Statement from your bank confirming that you closed your bank account because of stolen checks, and that your signature does not match those on disputed checks.
- A letter from your banking institution. [SAMPLE LETTERS]
REMEMBER always record information in your Identity theft binder, including the name of the person to whom you spoke, the date of the conversation, addresses needed to send information to, fax numbers, what was discussed, and any other pertinent information. Place all correspondence in your identity theft envelope, and make copies of any documents you send. Always keep copies for your records in your identity theft envelope.
- Check Rite (800)766-2748
- Chex Systems (800)328-5121
- Equifax-Telecredit (800) 437-5120
- NPC (800)262-7771
- Telecheck (800)685-5000
- Equifax Risk Management Services (800)898-3068
- Equifax (800)556-9000
- CRA Security Systems (800)486-0955
Write a letter and give it to your bank to copy because,
unbelievable as it may sound, some banks will not have any idea of what
to do in such a case. Some banks will write a letter to the check agency
saying the returned check was a bank error! That means that the crooks
could continue to use your driver's license, write checks, and the
bank would take the heat for the bad checks.
Review the sample letter freely available on the VAA website and give a
similar one to your bank to copy. It should work just fine.
To get the letter from your bank you must provide them with copies of
the disputed checks for a signature match. Most banks will have
your signature on file.
There may be a case when even after you have complied with all of the
wishes of the Check reporting company, they will continue to harass you,
and mail your information to a collection agency. Call them again and
try and resolve it. If you cannot resolve the situation, please
contact your state's Office of The Attorney General.
You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission. In 1999 the Federal
Trade Commission established a clearinghouse to assist victims of
identity theft and document their cases in a database. This clearinghouse
is a result of a new federal law "The Identity Theft and Assumption
Deterrence Act of 1998." The toll free number for the FTC is
877-IDTHEFT. [ID THEFT LINKS]
A sample letter is freely available on the VAA website to send to your
state's Office of the Attorney General, which may yield some quick results.
You will probably continue getting these returned check notices for some
time. Try not to get emotional. It's difficult to see someone
else's signature on your checks. It feels like a terrible violation.
Don't despair. Don't pay any of the disputed charges. You have the
ammunition to fight. You will be okay.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT - If you have not already done so, contact the three major credit reporting agencies. They are as follows:
PO Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348
Trans Union has a Fraud Victim assistance department (FVAD) dedicated
solely to the detection, prevention and rectification of credit fraud.
Might be a good idea to call them at (800)680-7289, or fax them at
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
Explain to each credit agency that you have been a victim of identity theft. Tell them what happened. You will be removed from a list the agencies provide for pre-approved and instant credit.
PO Box 1017
Allen, TX 92634
IMPORTANT Ask that a fraud alert or protective statement be added to your credit file. Be sure to ask how long the statement will remain on your credit file. See if you can get a permanent fraud alert put in place. If not mark your calendar for when it expires and try to always keep it in place. This is one of the best things that you can do to assure that you don’t have a second problem in the future. When a credit grantor accesses your credit file and sees the fraud alert, they should contact you at your home phone to verify that it was you who requested the credit. Also add a victims statement to your report. " My Identity was stolen. Contact me at (your phone number) to verify all requests for credit."
Be aware that these measures may not entirely stop new accounts from being opened in your name by the perpetrator. Request a free copy of your credit report every few months so you can monitor any new identity theft activity.
Merchants, whom your perpetrator may go to, applying for credit or to open an account of some type, may call you to verify an account opening. If you have not tried to open an account personally, tell them about the identity theft immediately and another potential fraud under your good name can be stopped in its tracks. If they are contacting you while the perpetrator is still in the store ask them to contact their local law enforcement and have the perpetrator arrested. Get your identity theft binder and give them the tracking number off of your police report along with which department wrote it, the officers name and badge number to help the law enforcement in the district where the store is located.
Depending on how long ago the identity theft took place, ask each credit reporting agency if there is any recent activity on your file. Call in and Request a current copy of your report be sent to you each year. There should be no charge if a possible identity theft is suspected.
DRIVER'S LICENSE NUMBER
After you have contacted the three major credit agencies, and responded to all of the "notices of returned checks," you may want to consider changing your driver's license number, and have a flag put on your old driver's license number by the DMV. This way, if any traffic tickets are issued to your Driver's License, or any more bad checks written, it will not affect you and if the driver is stopped for any other traffic violation, he can be arrested.
Most state DMV's have specific rules when it comes to changing driver's license numbers. In other words, its not so easy to do, and you have to get on it early, because, like all government agencies, the process may be slow and daunting.
You should physically visit your local DMV personally and apply for a new license number. It is possible to do it through the mail, and if you're like most of us, anything is better than going to the DMV. Each state has its own rules. Call your local DMV and find out what is involved for your state.
Be prepared to provide to the DMV with the following information
After the required forms have been sent, you will be notified by mail if
your request has been approved.
- A copy of the police report
- Copies of the canceled checks, bills, or letters from companies or
banks substantiating the identity theft
- Take a sheet of paper and make a statement for in their file giving the factual story of exactly what happened. Be sure to include your full name as it appears on you driver’s license or ID card, your birthdate, your driver’s license or ID card number, and your current address, and phone. Request that a flag be put on your old number should your perpetrator try to use it.
- As listed above, call first: this info can vary from state to state.
- Ask when you speak with them where exactly to submit the documents for that specific state.
If it has been approved, go to your nearest DMV. Yes, you must appear
in person this time. To avoid a long wait, call the office to
schedule an appointment. Expect the following:
- At the DMV, show the letter that you have received.
- Pay the required fee for a new DL or ID card, and surrender yours if you still have one.
- Have a new photo taken
- You will receive a temporary driver's license. Your new DL will
arrive in the mail after what seems like an eternity.
Your temporary license may expire before you ever receive the new
permanent license. Be prepared.
- IMPORTANT Make sure you ask the DMV to put a flag on your old number. Then if it's used, the police may be able to apprehend your perpetrator.
CONSIDER THE REAL VICTIM / THE MERCHANT VICTIMS
It is not required, but you may want to contact the stores that were ripped off by the thieves using your driver's license number. They are also victims here. They cannot recover the goods that were exchanged for the worthless checks. Find out the location of the store where the bad checks were written. Ask them to press charges against the thieves. They are the only ones who can press charges, as they are the people who have lost actual money. You are not considered the victim in the eyes of the law, since you did not lose money or goods.
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
If your Social Security Card was stolen and is being used in a fraudulent way, it is possible to change your number. But this is harder to do than changing your driver's license number. Social Security has strict guidelines for changing the number. You should, however, contact them and report the card or number stolen. You may also request a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement to verify for accuracy. The thief might be using your SSN for employment purposes.
VAA does not advise that you change your Social Security Number. There is a lot of information linked to your social security number, (ie: employment records, income tax issues, etc.) and too many unforeseen possible problems down the road if you change it. The Social Security Administration can be reached at (800)269-0271 and can provide further details on the process allowing you to make an informed decision about changing your Social Security Number.