5. Contact the appropriate regulator.
You need to determine which federal agency regulates the financial institution or creditor that is holding you responsible for repayment. If it’s a bank, chances are it is regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (www.occ.treas.gov ) or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (www.fdic.gov). You can file a complaint on the agency’s Website. To figure out the agency you need to turn to, go to www.helpwithmybank.gov.
6. If all else fails, call a lawyer.
If you’ve written the creditor, called their customer service department, and contacted the company’s headquarters and little to nothing has been done, it may be time for you to seek legal counsel. Smith-Valentine says that if it comes to this point, you’re usually suing the creditors and not your relative. “The way the laws are set up, they’re geared toward the company that was sending the wrong information,” explains Smith-Valentine. “If you notified the credit card company that you did not make the purchases and they remove the fraudulent charges from your account, the company has a right to go after the person that was making the purchases, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The claim against the thief to recoup the money do es not belong to you. If the creditor reports the fraudulent charges on your credit report and you dispute the reporting without success, this gives a lawyer grounds to sue the creditors on your behalf.”
Additional reporting by Sheiresa Ngo.
This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.