Claiming your identity: what to do if crooks take out loans on your behalf

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OPINION: From the “you couldn’t make it up” files comes the story of a man who took more than two years to recover his digital identity.

The man was sued by a debt collector for a debt he literally had nothing to do with.

In 2018, he told the debt collector that they had the wrong person, showing that he had a different middle name than the debtor and that he had never lived at the address where the actual debtor had accumulated his debts.

For two years, the debt collector ignored him.

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The man complained to the Privacy Commission saying the default debt ruined his credit report so he was struggling to find a place to stay, couldn’t borrow money and suffered from mental health problems.

The Privacy Commission forced the debt collector to admit he was wrong.

He paid the man a “substantial confidential settlement”, thus keeping his bastard behavior a secret and not scaring the banks and finance companies, even government agencies, who paid him to collect their debts.

Wellington electronics developer Neill Bryce had his identity stolen by someone who got credit on his behalf, and his experience can teach us a lot about how people can get their digital identities back when crooks steal them.

KEVIN STENT / Stuff

Wellington electronics developer Neill Bryce had his identity stolen by someone who got credit on his behalf, and his experience can teach us a lot about how people can get their digital identities back when crooks steal them.

The Privacy Commission said the case was a reminder to organizations to keep accurate records.

My lesson to be learned is that companies can have a bewildering disregard for the damage they do to real human beings.

It reminded me of the case of a man I wrote about who suffered five attempts by criminals to take out loans on his behalf. Only one succeeded.

None of the loan companies bothered to track him down to tell him they had identified the identity fraud, and whoever loaned the money on his behalf did not find him after finding out. fraud.

Instead, the lender called Humm actually sent the debt to a debt collector, who had no trouble locating the man.

It was from the debt collector that the man learned of the attempted theft on his behalf.

After all the attempts we have had to pass laws to properly regulate the behavior of lenders and debt collectors, we are obviously still miles from where we need to be.

Taking back control of a stolen or co-opted identity is not easy.

When you find out that someone has impersonated you, the first step is to call one of the three credit bureaus.

These companies – Centrix, Illion, and Equifax – compile credit reports on each of us.

Any lender, no matter how responsible, will check these records when a loan application is made on our behalf.

The victim of identity theft can request a “deletion” on their credit report.

This means that any lender who checks the file will only see a note that the person has been the target of suspected identity theft.

You can find a great information sheet on removal from IDCare, a registered charity that helps victims of identity theft.

Then the victim has to learn all they can about how their digital identity has been compromised, which is not easy because lenders don’t want to talk about it.

IDCare is happy to help victims of identity crimes create a personal plan to take back control of their identity.

This means getting documents like their driver’s license reissued and all debts canceled.

Victims should immediately file formal “disputes” with debt collectors and lenders who want the money, warning them that if they don’t act, the victim will call the Trade Commission and other regulators like the Commission for the Protection of Privacy.

Every victim should report to the police, just like the lenders, but clearly they don’t, which is something else that needs to change.

We desperately need a National Identity Theft Action Plan, and we need another review of laws covering lenders and debt collectors to leave them in no doubt about what we expect from it. ‘them.

GOLDEN RULES

  • Insist on your rights
  • Refuse to be defrauded
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