WHO Do You Think You Are? 
Protect yourself from identity theft

Artist Jessamyn Lovell recently created an art exhibit, “Dear Erin Hart,” a response to having her identity stolen by Erin Hart.

“In an effort to piece together my transgressor’s crime spree, I documented relevant places, interviewed witnesses, hired a private investigator, and even photographed Erin Hart being released from jail. Through photography, video, and other forms of documentation, I make an attempt at understanding this woman…”

The exhibit has been featured everywhere from This American Life, The Today Show, and Money magazine to newspapers, television and radio stations. See here.

Anyone who has experienced identity theft was probably cheering Lovell but there are practical ways you can respond if someone steals your identity.

Best Ways YOU Can Respond to Identity Theft

Take steps for Identity Theft Prevention and Protection before anything happens:

  • Don’t give out personal information such as your SSN, mother’s maiden name, or account numbers over the phone or the internet unless you know the information is secure.
  • Keep your personal information secure from visitors to your home – stored away where it can’t be easily found.
  • Don’t carry your Social Security Card or SS number – leave it at home.
  • Shred, shred, shred! Before you toss, shred your receipts, medical bills, bank statements and checks and even pre-screened credit card offers.
  • DO NOT open e-mails or attachments from e-mail addresses you are unfamiliar with.
  • Monitor your financial accounts for unexplained charges or withdrawals.
  • Monitor your credit report. You have the right to a free copy of the information in your file once a year from at any consumer reporting agency.

If you are the victim of identity theft:

  • Place “fraud alerts” in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft.
  • File a report with your local, federal or state law enforcement agency.
  • Access free copies of information in your file. An initial fraud alert entitles you to a copy of all the information in your file at each of the three nationwide agencies, and an extended alert entitles you to two free file disclosures in a 12-month period following the placing of the alert.
  • Obtain documents relating to any fraudulent transactions or accounts opened using your personal information. A creditor or other business must give you copies of applications and other business records relating to transactions and accounts that resulted from the theft of your identity, if you ask for them in writing.
  • Obtain information from a debt collector: a debt collector must provide you with certain information about the debts you believe were incurred in your name by an identity thief – such as the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.

If you believe information in your file is the result of identity theft, you have the right to ask that a consumer reporting agency block that information from your file and you can prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies.

Detailed summary of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (pdf)

Consumer Protection Law Attorneys

If you need assistance dealing with the effects of identity theft, get a Free Case Review today, or call the attorneys at Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C., 877-735-8600. Founded in 1998, Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. specializes in consumer protection litigation; their goal is to provide exceptional advocacy to consumers subjected to unfair business, industry and trade practices.

Contact Consumer Reporting Agencies

Equifax: 800-525-6285
Experian: 888-397-3742
TransUnion: 800-680-7289