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Consumer Reporting: Identity Theft & Identity Fraud
Consumer Reporting: Identity Theft & Identity Fraud
Updated over a week ago

Identity theft and identity fraud involve the wrongful taking of personally identifiable information such as name, date of birth, address, or social security number by another and using it as means of deception for economic or social gain.

Identity theft and identity fraud can come in many forms and can impact any demographic. Your security is important to us at M1, and we will continue to strengthen our efforts to safeguard our customers. We have provided this article as a resource for those who suspect they have been a victim of identity theft and/or identity fraud. We strongly encourage you review the information below:

Notify the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent United States government agency responsible for shielding consumers and encouraging competition by restricting unethical marketplace practices through regulations, among many other things. In support of the Dodd-Frank Act, which protects consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices (UDAAPs), the FTC consistently engages in successful law enforcement, educates consumers and businesses, protects consumer interests, and develops research tools.

Notifying the FTC of suspected identity crimes is simple and can be accomplished by:

1. visiting IdentityTheft.gov

OR

2. calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY: 1-866-653-4261

Upon answering a series of questions related to the specifics of the suspected crime, such as “What personal information was lost or stolen?”, “What did the identity thief use your information for? or “Did you submit an IRS IdentityTheft Affidavit (Form 14039) to the IRS?”, the FTC will generate an identity theft report, an identity theft affidavit (if applicable), and a recovery plan that assists consumers with taking the appropriate action to address the suspected crime.

Alert Creditors

When an identity crime is suspected, consumers must contact financial institutions that share a relationship with them to limit liability. Under federal law, liability is contingent on the activity type and report date. Below is the maximum liability associated with the two most common forms of identity crimes (credit card and ATM/debit fraud).

For Credit Card Fraud:

  • If card is physically lost/stolen and reported before unauthorized use, the maximum liability is $0.

  • If card is physically lost/stolen and reported after unauthorized use, the maximum liability is $50.

  • If card is not physically lost/stolen and reported only unauthorized account number use, the maximum liability is $0.

For ATM/Debit Card Fraud:

  • If card is physically lost/stolen and reported before unauthorized use, the maximum liability is $0.

  • If card is physically lost/stolen and reported unauthorized use within two business days after detecting the loss or theft, the maximum liability is $50.

  • If card is physically lost/stolen and reported unauthorized use after two business days of detecting the loss or theft but within sixty calendar days of statement release, the maximum liability is $500.

  • If card is physically lost/stolen and reported after 60 calendar days upon statement release, there is no maximum liability cap.

    • Not only can a consumer become liable for all money lost/stolen in an account(s), but potentially more, especially if there was money in the account(s) connected to the debit account(s).

  • If card is not physically lost/stolen and reported only unauthorized account number use within 60 calendar days after statement receipt, the maximum liability is $0.

If you suspect you have been the victim or will be the victim of an identity crime, please contact us immediately.

File Police Report

Filing a police report can be an essential fraud resolution process component. The police report serves as both a declaration of innocence and a sworn statement denouncing liability for the associated identity crimes reported.

While a consumer may file a report, it is not necessarily required depending on the situation. When addressing identity crimes, there is a heavy emphasis on providing a remedy, such as processing a dispute or issuing credit, rather than identifying the culprit.

Questions to ask yourself before filing a police report:

  1. Do I know the alleged perpetrator(s)?

  2. Do I have any beneficial information that would assist police investigation?

  3. Does my financial institution require a police report submission?

If you answered yes to at least one of the questions above, it is a good idea to consider filing a police report.

Dispute Identity Crime-Related Errors and Charges

One of the greatest frustrations associated with identity crimes is the errors and unauthorized charges. One option to address these errors and unauthorized charges is to undergo the dispute process. The dispute process is straightforward and can be accomplished in as little as four steps:

Step 1: Initiate Contact

Upon detecting an identity theft-related error or fraudulent charge, consumers must immediately contact their financial institution(s) or credit bureau(s). Typically, this occurs through phone, email, or mail. Depending on the contact method chosen, the financial institution may collect information on the unauthorized transaction date(s), unauthorized transaction amount(s), your name, your contact information, account number(s), error description(s) and more.

Step 2: Authorize Card Deactivation and Account Closure (if applicable)

To prevent further unauthorized account use and protect the consumer, the issuing financial institution may restrict or deactivate cards, close accounts, or all three. After account closure or deactivation, a new card, account number, or checkbook may be issued.

Step 3: Wait for the Investigation Findings

Once a consumer reports the fraudulent activity, the financial institution(s) contacted will begin an investigation to verify claim validity. A provisional or temporary credit (s) is issued while an investigation is active in most cases. A provisional credit becomes permanent if investigation findings support the original claim. Otherwise, if concluded the consumer is liable for the charge(s) or error(s), the temporary credit will be reversed, and the consumer must arrange payment.

Step 4: Follow-Up

Following up is essential to ensure favorable results, especially if the investigation timeline provided has elapsed. While financial institutions do their best to assist with fraud remediation, ultimately, the consumer must remain informed so both the consumer and financial institutions can work as a team towards a resolution. According to the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit agencies generally have 30 days (or 45 days in certain circumstances) from when a dispute is filed to provide a resolution. Generally, financial institutions are allowed no more than 90 days to process a dispute depending on the identity crime type (i.e. bank account or credit card or debit card fraud).

Contact Credit Agencies

If an identity crime is suspected, one of the best steps to take is to contact each of the three credit agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each time a consumer notifies a single agency of a suspected identity crime, the others are notified as well, meaning additional individual contact is not required. Through credit agencies, the consumer can:

  • Lock or freeze the credit report.

    • A lock or freeze temporarily blocks 3rd party credit checks, thus, preventing back actors from applying for credit in your name.

  • Place a fraud alert on the consumer statement.

    • Fraud alerts notify companies, especially creditors or lenders, that the consumer has been or may be a victim of an identity crime. When this alert is present, lenders and creditors are encouraged to take extra precautions to verify consumer identity before issuing credit in their name.

      • A one-year minimum and a seven-year extension are available.

  • Obtain a free copy of your credit report.

    • Free copies are available once a year per agency.

    • Use the credit report to review inquiries and identify suspicious activity.

  • Dispute errors.

    • For more on disputing errors, please see the previous section.

Identity Theft and Identity Fraud Prevention Tips

  • Safely secure sensitive information.

  • Use locks and strong, unique passwords for each account when applicable.

  • Do not release personally identifiable information unless you share a trusted relationship with the requestor.

  • Shred documents that are no longer of importance.

  • Regularly monitor your credit report, cards, and accounts for suspicious activity and immediately report it.

  • Request a free annual copy of the credit report.

  • Vigilantly check surroundings to prevent shoulder surfing.

  • Place a lock, freeze, or fraud alert on the credit report.

  • Enroll in two factor or multi-factor or biometric authentication.

  • Update login credentials when necessary.

  • Opt into text or email notifications with your financial institutions to receive the latest alerts.

For more tips, check out M1 security recommendations.

M1 will continue to diligently safeguard our customers’ information. Together we can mitigate any identity theft and fraud.

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