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Question
Mr. Shear:

Thank you for taking my question.  Over the last 18 months I have been notified by several companies regarding a security breach regarding my personal credit information.  I buy stuff on-line and I am concerned about this.  

I do renew my fraud alerts with the credit bureaus every 90 days.  However, I did not want to freeze my account because I might need or someone else might need access to my credit reports.  

Is there something else I should be doing to protect my personal information from identity theft?

To make matters worse, I was recently sued by a credit card company that my ex-spouse took out in my name.  I filed an answer but don't know how to handle the case or what to argue.  What should I do and can you help me?  Thank you in advance!  I live in New York State.

Answer
Nancy:

Sorry to hear about your situation.  If you have fraud flag alerts on all of your credit reports that you renew every 90 days, and remember you have to renew them every 90 days or they disappear, that should be good enough.  However, if you are really concerned about identity theft you can have a credit freeze which freezes your accounts.  Nobody can get your FICO score or access your reports.  If in the future you apply for credit you just notify the bureaus and get the freeze lifted.  You then put the freeze back on later.  If you already have fraud flag alerts I think that should be enough.

With regards to the credit card lawsuit, the Federal Truth in Lending Act contains strong consumer protections against unauthorized use of a credit card.  Federal law specifies that the creditor has the burden of proof to show that a charge is authorized.  "Unauthorized use" means the use of the credit card by a person other than the card holder who does not have actual, implied or apparent authority for such use, and from which the card holder receives no benefit.

You also have the right to obtain information about the application and related business records to help demonstrate that you did not open the account.  You as an identity theft victim, have the right under federal law to obtain from the original creditor a copy of the application and business transaction records in control of that creditor, whether maintained by that entity or by another for that entity.

Your request must be in writing, and the creditor must first obtain proof of positive identification of the identity theft victim.  The creditor can not charge for this information, and must respond within thirty days after receiving your request.

If require further assistance or representation in this matter, please contact us directly.

Jason A. Shear, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Admitted in NY & NJ
Law Offices of Jason A. Shear
Phone: (716) 566-8988
Website: www.jasonshearlaw.com

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Jason Shear, Esq.

Expertise

I can answer questions for residents of New York and New Jersey regarding creditor harassment claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA); credit reporting errors under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); debt collection defense/credit card defense; student loan law; and consumer class actions. I can also answer questions relating to consumer debt defense/collection agency defense, specifically pertaining to consumers being sued or harassed by collection agencies or NY collection attorneys. If you live in New York and have been contacted or sued by firms such as: Mel Harris & Associates, Forster & Garbus, Rubin & Rothman, Choi Law Office, Lacy Katzen, Malen & Associates, Solomon & Solomon, Daniels & Norelli, Cohen & Slamowitz, Pressler & Pressler or others; give us a call at (716) 566-8988.

Experience

I have obtained settlements for consumers in NY and NJ under the FDCPA and FCRA. I have successfully defended consumers who were sued by collection agencies/debt purchasers in the New York State courts.

Organizations
National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) Law Offices of Jason Shear Consumer Attorneys 3957 Main Street, Second Floor Buffalo, New York 14226 (716) 566-8988

Education/Credentials
BA/BS, Accounting & Political Science, Hunter College. Juris Doctor, Univ. at Buffalo Law School. LLM (Criminal Law), University at Buffalo.

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