The Legal Procedure of Reporting Fraud
The legal procedure of reporting fraud is often complicated and difficult to understand. Identity theft, for example, is a violation of privacy with an additional fallout that can be a financial loss.
This article will outline the steps you should take if you find yourself in this situation including what to do if your identity has been stolen before, how to report it, and who should be contacted.
What Is Fraud
Fraud comes in many forms, but most are characterized by someone taking advantage of another individual for personal gain or advantage. It can involve stealing money, using someone else's personal information, or impersonating someone else without permission. Probably the most common examples include credit card fraud and identity theft.
File a Report With the Police
If you suspect fraud, file a report with the local police department. This ensures that an official record of the crime is established. The local police station can help you access other resources if you need them and provide support throughout the investigation. Call your local police station and ask for help filing a report in person or by phone.
Do not hesitate to take immediate action and report fraud here and protect your rights.
Check Your Credit Report
After contacting the proper authorities, you should closely monitor your credit report. If your identity has been stolen and the thief has used your information to obtain credit, you may be stuck with the payments they made in your name. Having a fraud alert on your credit report may help protect you from paying for someone else's expenses.
Request a New Card or Account
If you find that someone has opened a new card or account in your name, contact the credit card company immediately and ask them to close the account. Be sure to dispute any charges they have already made with their local authorities to avoid being held liable for them.
Keep All Records of Your Case
In many cases, identity theft leaves no record of who is responsible for it, so you'll want to keep all the details of your case in a safe place. This includes everything from the bills that showed up in your mailbox, to confirmations and notes on everything else you do while the fraud investigation is ongoing.
Complete an ID Theft Affidavit if Needed
Finally, if the police are involved in your case, you may need to complete an identity theft affidavit. This statement will record what happened and show that someone was stealing your identity before being caught and determined to be responsible.
Contact Creditors and Other Potential Sources of Harm
After rechecking your credit report, contact any entities affected by the fraud, including creditors, banks, or other financial entities. Your lawyer can help identify any sources of harm and find a way to resolve the problem.
Check Your Credit Report Regularly
It's essential to check your credit report regularly since you never know when someone may try to use your identity to open a card or account without your knowledge. It is also vital that you do this yourself rather than relying on the information shown on it. Thieves are constantly trying to get their hands on personal information.
In addition, if you have a history of being a victim of fraud and have had an alert placed on your credit report, check every few months if it is still there to avoid having to deal with any fraudulent activity in the future.
Prepare Documentation When Reporting Fraud
When you file a complaint with the FTC or other authorities, you may need to supply information about yourself, including contact information, addresses, and any documentation of the fraudulent activity. This may include bills addressed to someone else or a credit card statement with charges for someone else.
Report Fraud Immediately
Report fraud as soon as you discover it. You don't need to wait for the proper authorities to contact you first; instead take action as soon as you suspect something might be wrong. If you encounter the authorities during your investigation into the fraud, be cooperative and provide all information they request.
About the Author
As a journalist, Leland D. Bengtson dedicated most of his career to law reporting. His greatest satisfaction is to convey legal matters to the public in a language that they can understand. He is active on various platforms and media outlets, writing about common legal issues that people confront with every day. While medical malpractice is his strong suit, Leland covers plenty of other topics, including personal injury cases, family law, and other civil and even criminal legal matters.
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