Police Reports and Identity Theft
Police reports play an important role when identity theft occurs. They can play a crucial role in disputing incorrect information your credit report, or in filing a complaint with a regulatory agency (like the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission), or completing a fraud affidavit.
Why Do I need a Police Report?
Many people wonder if they actually need to get a police report when identity theft has occurred. The answer is YES, you really do need the report! Getting a police report plays several important roles in combatting the identity theft. First, it documents the theft and provides crucial evidence for disputing incorrect information on your credit report, or for completing a fraud affidavit. It also shows the creditor/debt collector that you are not making a bogus or fake dispute about a valid debt; because victims of identity theft never shy away from notifying the police about these issues.
How Do I Get a Police Report?
Identity theft has become a frequent occurrence. Data breaches, online transactions, hacking, or relatives stealing identities are some of the major causes of identity theft. And sometimes identities are sold on the "dark web" for people to purchase and misuse. Because they are becoming so common, police departments usually have a defined and relatively easy process for getting a report. Call your local police department and let them know you have been the victim of identity theft, and need a police report. They may have you come to the station to meet with an officer; but many police departments conduct and complete the report over the phone. A report and a report number will be issued by the police department; make sure you get a copy of the report and keep a copy in your permanent records.
What if I don't know who stole my identity?
Many people have no idea who stole their identity. Even if you don't know who stole your identity, you can file and receive a police report. The police will ask you various questions about who may have committed the identity theft. Make sure you answer those questions (and all their questions!) truthfully and fully. But there is no need to guess or hypothesize on who may have committed the theft.
What if I don't want to report the identity thief?
Sometimes the victim of identity theft knows who committed the illegal act - often it is a family member. If you are unwilling to file a police report and disclose the identity thief, there is little you can do to combat the theft. I encourage clients in this predicament to show some "tough love" and report the wrongdoer. Otherwise the victim cannot do anything to address the underlying issue and protect their identity, credit reports, and combat future lawsuits from the unpaid debts.
Will the police investigate and locate the identity thief?
There is an expectation that the police will investigate and prosecute identity thieves. However in all reality, these types of issues are rarely investigated by the police. The report is filed and documented - and then no further action is taken. This most likely do to a variety of issues. First, is that the actual identity thief is not located within their geographic area. Second, many police departments lack the budget and manpower to pursue such claims. However a lack of police investigation does not negate how effective a police report operates in a credit dispute or fraud affidavit. Do not let the lack of a police investigation or prosecution dissuade you from getting that police report filed.
Questions About Police Reports and Identity Theft?
We provide representation in identity theft cases in Wisconsin, including Racine, Kenosha, Green Bay, Appleton, the Fox Valley, Milwaukee, West Allis, Waukesha, Walworth County, Dane County, Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Superior, Ashland, and anywhere in-between.