Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Identity Theft: Part 3, Create an Identity Theft Report

This is Part 3 in a short series on Identity Theft

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, an Identity Theft Report, I thought that's what I just did. Well, there is a little more to it. The report I am referring to here is one that will assist you in dealing with the company that improperly opened an account in your name. This could include any number of credit reporting companies, businesses, and debt collectors.

You should find this report useful when working with companies to get fraudulent information removed from your credit report and prevent the company from initiating or continuing debt collection efforts. It will help you place an extended fraud alert on your credit reports, and assist you in getting information from companies about your improperly opened and improperly used accounts.

So, how do you create this report? :Like most things, the steps are relatively simple, but they will take up some of you time. First, you should submit a report to the Federal Trade Commission. Print a copy of the report for your safe keeping, and it will be referred to as the Identity Theft Affidavit. Secondly, with your Identity Theft Affidavit in hand, contact the police and file out a police report. Again, keep a copy of the police report and report number. These 2 documents make up your Identity Theft Report.

So, how do you get hold of the FTC. My first suggestion is to look online, and see if there is a process for completing these steps on their web site. The internet is rapidly changing, and this seems to be the way of the future.

If looking online does not work, you can call them at

1-866-653-4261 (TTY)

Simply follow the directions of the person on the phone (which will probably be to go to the internet). Submit the information, and save the complaint reference number.

Of course, as always, update your files as to when you filed the complaint, and make sure to keep a copy of everything, including the affidavit.

From time to time you may find you will need to update your file. How do you do this? Well, call the number above. Make sure you have your reference number ready.

OK, so that's the FTC side of this. Now, lets move forward with the filing of the Police Report. Again, you can give them a call and find out if you should go down to the police station, or if they will send an officer to you. When you tell them why you are calling, they will give you the proper steps to take. They will probably want to see a government issued ID with a photo, some form of proof of the theft, a copy of the FTC documents you just completed above, and some proof of your address (like a utility bill).

And of course, UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE your records.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Identity Theft: Part 2, Order Credit Report

This is Part 2 in a short series on Identity Theft.

Part 2. Order Your Credit Report

That's right. Order your credit report. Why?

Now that you’ve placed an initial fraud alert (see Part 1), you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies. The credit reporting company you call will explain your rights and how you can get a free copy of your credit report. Order the report and ask the company to show only the last four digits of your Social Security number on your report.

If you know which of your accounts have been tampered with, contact the related businesses. Talk to someone in the fraud department, and follow up in writing. Send your letters by certified mail; return receipt requested; doing so creates a record of when they received your communication.

When you review the credit reports, you may find unauthorized charges or accounts. You will need to learn how to review your credit report and dispute errors. Later I will post a short article on disputing errors, and post a link here to that page.

Order a Credit Report for FREE.

1. Contact each of the credit reporting agencies and order a credit report.
          Equifax 1-800-525-6285,
          Experian 1-888-397-3742
          TransUnion 1-800-680-7289

     When calling each of the above, explain you have already filed an “initial fraud alert”.

     Order a free copy of your credit report.

      Request the company only show the last 4 digits of your social security number on your report.

2. Record the dates you placed the calls and letters sent and received.
    Keep a copy of all letters sent and received.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Identity Theft: Part 1, Place Fraud Alert

What should you do if you have had you ID stolen? The following is Part 1 of a multi-part series on what you should do regarding ID theft.

PART 1. Place a Fraud Alert.

There are three national credit reporting companies keeping records of your credit history. If someone has misused your personal or financial information, call one (1) of the companies and ask for an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report. The fraud alert is FREE. The credit reporting company will ask you to provide proof of your identity. This you must do. After reporting to the company you choose to call, that company must tell the other companies about your alert.

An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit, so it may try to contact you. The initial fraud alert stays on your report for at least 90 days, and you can renew it after the 90 days has passed. It also allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies, even if you have received a free copy within the passed 12 months. Be sure the credit reporting companies have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you.

So, how do you do this?
Lets take it step by step.

  1. CONTACT one (1) credit reporting company.
           Report you are an identiy theft victim.
           Ask the company to put a fraud alert on your credit line.
           Confirm that the company you call will contact the other 2 companies.

  1. Update your files. Order a free credit report. The company you speak with will explain to you how you can do this. They should also explain to you some rights you have.
  2. Mark you calendar. The fraud alert is good for 90 days. You can renew it.
  3. Record the dates you made calls or sent letters.
  4. Keep a copy of ALL letters you send out.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Where Should I File Bankruptcy: A Guide For The Middle District Of Florida

So, you need to file bankruptcy, but where should you file?  Bankruptcies are filed according to where you reside, or if you have been there for less than 180 days, then it is according to where you have lived.  The below assumes you have lived within a particular area, called a Division (which is part of a District) for at least 180 days before filing.

The state of Florida is broken up into 3 Districts, known as the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts. Each District is further broken up into Divisions. The Middle District is divided into four Divisions known as the Jacksonville, Ocala, Orlando, Tampa and Ft. Myers Divisions.

You would file in the District, subject to certain residency requirements, as follows: 

You would file in the JACKSONVILLE Division if you reside in one of the following counties: Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Hamilton, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns,  Suwannee, and Union . The place of holding court is Jacksonville.

You would file in the OCALA Division if you reside in one of the following counties: Citrus, Lake, Marion and Sumter.  This place for holding court is Ocala.

You would file in the ORLANDO Division if you reside in one of the following counties: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia. The place of holding court is Orlando. 

You would file in the TAMPA Division if you reside in one of the following counties: Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota. The place of holding court is Tampa. 

You would file in the FT. MYERS Division if you reside in one of the following counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry and Lee. The place of holding court is Ft. Myers.

If you plan on filing bankruptcy having lived within a particular District for less than 180 days, you should seek the advise of an attorney to determine where you need to file.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bankruptcy Attorney Jacksonville: How To Find

I recently received an advertisement from a well known internet service provider letting me know my web site ( would not be found if someone typed in Bankruptcy Attorney Jacksonville. Sure enough, I tried it, and my listing was not found. I am a little surprised they did not include a phrase, such as 

Best Bankruptcy Attorney in Jacksonville.

Or how about Best, Stupendous, Outrageous...well, you get the idea.

What did I find? I found a lot of advertising various attorneys are paying for, followed by sites Google has ranked pursuant to the search criteria.

So, how should you search for the results you are looking for.  I do not have a solid answer, but if you would like a couple of suggestions from someone that knows next to nothing about SEO (that's Search Engine Optimization, not some slanted phrase you are probably thinking of), then here we go.

My suggestion, if you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney in your area, do some research. This involves typing words into search engines various ways. For example, if you type in 

Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy Attorney Jacksonville
Attorney Bankruptcy Jacksonville

you will get different results. The words are the same, but search engines view these entries as being different, resulting in different results. To narrow the results, you may want to include the name of the area of the city or town you are in, or in larger cities, a general direction. My office happens to be in a more rural area of Jacksonville, so one has a better chance of finding my site if they add the word West to the search criteria.

I recently read that Google tends to place businesses that advertise with them (yep, send them money) in a better position within their search engine. So if you want to find an attorney in your area of town, that has the qualifications you are looking for, you may want to go past the firms that throw money at the search engines, and start looking at the more meaningful ranking of websites.

If you have discovered a good way to bring up the search results you are looking for, please post your suggestions below.