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Legal Assistance Guide for Identity Theft Victims

The Federal Trade Commission has created a guide to help attorneys and victim advocates provide legal assistance to identity theft victims.

Geared toward resolving issues out of court, the Guide for Assisting Identity Theft Victims describes how advocates can intervene with creditors, credit reporting agencies, debt collectors, and others, as well as self-help measures that victims can take. Victims may need an advocate’s help in a variety of situations: their age, health, language skills, or income prevents them from making effective disputes; they’re being pursued for someone else’s debt; they face uncooperative creditors or credit reporting agencies; or their case is complex.

Step-by-step instructions provide best practices for recovering from identity theft involving financial accounts, and incorporate victims’ rights under various federal statutes. The guide also addresses recovery from less common forms of identity theft, such as when a thief commits tax fraud, or obtains a federal student loan or medical services using stolen information. It includes sample dispute letters for victims and sample attorney follow-up letters to address matters victims are unable to resolve. It also provides checklists, an ID Theft Affidavit, a Victim’s Action Log, federal statutes and regulations, consumer education material, and links to online resources.

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The free Talking About Identity Theft publication has a lot of good information in it.

  1. Guide Overview
  2. Identity Theft: An Introduction
    • What is identity theft?
    • What do thieves do with a stolen identity?
    • How can you find out if your identity was stolen?
    • What should you do if your identity is stolen?
    • What can you do to help fight identity theft?.
  3. What Everyone Should Know: Deter, Detect, Defend
  4. What You Can Do: Deter, Detect, Defend
  5. Getting the Word Out—At Work
    • Step 1: Check with your employer.
    • Step 2: Send a Deter, Detect, Defend email.
    • Step 3: Distribute the Deter, Detect, Defend brochure.
    • Step 4: Post the Deter, Detect, Defend brochure.
    • Step 5: Host a meeting at work
  6. Getting the Word Out—In Your Community
    • Step 1: Identify the right community organizations.
    • Step 2: Place the Deter, Detect, Defend brochure in a public meeting area.
    • Step 3: Place an article in your community organization’s newsletter.
    • Step.4: Post information on your community organization’s website.
    • Step 5: Put together a meeting
  7. Getting the Word Out—Through the Media
    • Place a “Calendar Listing” with your local newspaper
    • Send a press release to your local media
    • Send a copy of the Deter, Detect, Defend brochure to reporters
  8. Materials You Can Use
    • Speech
    • Presentation Slides and Notes
    • Brochure Text
    • Frequently Asked Questions
    • Email to Employees
    • Meeting Invitation Flyer
    • Email Invitation to Meeting
    • Newsletter Blurb
    • Website Posting
    • Press Release Template (and anatomy of a press release)
  9. Additional Resources


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Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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