Third, figure out which federal agency regulates the financial institution/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 or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). You can file a complaint on the agency’s Website. To figure out the agency you need to turn to, visit www.HelpWithMyBank.gov.
Identity theft isn’t always committed by some unknown thief. Unfortunately, it is sometimes committed by a trusted brother, sister, mom, or dad—someone who has access to your social security number and personal information. If you discover that this is the case, cut off the line of credit immediately. Often, when this type of offense is committed by a family member, we allow them to placate us with “I’m going to pay you back” or “Don’t worry about it, it’s going to be paid off.” But you must be proactive and salvage what you can of your credit before it gets any further out of hand—family or not.
If this has happened to you, you’re going to need to file a police report and fill out affidavits to help prove to creditors that you did not rack up the charges, says Smith-Valentine. How to prove your innocence is a case-by-case basis. “If you were in school and the charges were made in a different state, show it. Provide your class schedule and other information to prove that you were out of state attending school,” says Smith-Valentine.
When you file a police report and identity theft affidavit, understand what it means. “You’re going to have to say you’re willing to assist in the prosecution of the family member,” says Smith-Valentine. While the likelihood of prosecution is very slim, says Smith-Valentine—she has only experienced one instance in her 12 years practice—it’s still a possibility. “If you’re not willing to prosecute, the creditors are going to think you were involved.”
At what point do you seek legal representation?
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 credit card company and not your relative.