Q: In a case of identity theft, Mid America Bank &Trust issued a credit card in my name to a Florida address. When the account went delinquent, they turned it over to a JTM collection agency. After countless hours, I’ve gotten that account information blocked by the three credit bureaus and JTM closed it as fraud.

Another collection agency, Total Care Inc., is now demanding my personal information, (SSN – drivers license ) and a notarized affidavit with a load of questions. I’ve already sent them a police report, and utility bill proving my residence when card was issued, and told them to direct all inquiries to the police. I’m reluctant to share any further information with them. Is there no end to this? Can you provide any counsel?

J.K., Broadview Heights

A: The burden of proof is on this debt collector, not you. And you are smart to be wary about providing personal information. You are not required to do this. Again, the burden of proof is on them.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires any debt collector to give you — in writing — a “validation notice” that spells out how much they think you owe, the name of the creditor involved and the next steps.

Have you received this? If not, you should notify the debt collector in writing (sent by certified mail) that it must provide details and proof of the debt.

Once you get that, you can send them a short letter that this debt (name the bank and the amount) was not incurred or authorized by you. You can indicate in the letter you were the victim of identity theft involving more than one new account opened fraudulently. You can again provide a copy of the police report. Make sure to cross out your date of birth, Social Security number and any other personal information besides your name and address. (If you want to include in your letter any information from their questionnaire, that’s fine. But I would not provide the debt collector with any additional personal information and if they have anything, I wouldn’t confirm it.)

Go Deneme Bonusu ahead and get this letter notarized before you send it. The bank where you have your deposit accounts should do this at no charge. Just call ahead and make sure there is a notary in the building and not at lunch or whatever.

You can tell the debt collector to stop trying to pursue you for this debt. The Federal Trade Commission says you can report any problems you have with any debt collector to the attorney general in your state (go to www.naag.org), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (www.consumerfinance.gov) and the FTC (www.ftc.gov).

A couple of other pieces of advice: First, make sure you have a copy of something in writing from JTM that JTM agreed the first account was fraud. You don’t want this to resurface a year or two from now and have to go through this all over again. Likewise, when you get this resolved with Total Care, make sure you get it in writing and keep that in your records.

Have a question or comment?

Murray is The Plain Dealer’s personal-finance writer. Because of the volume of requests, she cannot help everyone who contacts her.

To reach Murray: moneymatters@plaind.com
Previous columns online: cleveland.com/moneymatters
On Facebook: MurrayMoneyMatters
On Twitter: @teresamurray

Second, you should put reminders on your calendar to pull your credit report every four months to make sure that these cases, or any other fraud, don’t pop up on your credit report. By law, you can get one copy of your credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus. Do this through www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. So you could pull your Equifax report in four months, then your TransUnion report four months later, then your Experian report four months after that. Staggering your reports helps keep you on top of your credit history and what’s being reported.

For more information on requesting copies of your credit report, including how to request it by mail, go to:


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