Identity Theft Leads to Credit Bureau Damages
In what may yet become an opening salvo
of consumer litigation in the continuing war
against identity theft, one of the three major
credit bureaus has been ordered by a federal
judge to pay over $350,000 in damages to a
The woman's lawsuit was originally filed against all three
major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, & Experian as
well as her creditor, CitiFinancial for the total of $45
This whole sad episode, for all parties involved, started
in June, 2003 with the birth of the Virginia woman's son
at a local area hospital. That hospital stay resulted in
her social security number (ssn) becoming stolen
by an identity thief masquerading as an temporary worker
within the billing department.
The identity thief used the woman's stolen social security
number to open several credit accounts generating
"thousands of dollars" in fraudulent debt
responsible for the victim to pay.
The appalling part of the hospital's hiring was the staffing
agency who supplied the temporary billing person evidently
did not conduct a thorough background check. The temporary
worker was later exposed to have had prior convictions for
identity theft and was on probabition at the time she was
placed within the hospital's billing department.
Although the identity thief was arrested and sentenced to
two years in prison, the identity theft victim was left
with several more years of harassment by debt
collection companies as her credit reports continued
to show non-payment.
Note, this was after the identity theft victim attempted to
clear her credit record for over a year. This was even
after she initially reported the crime to all three credit bureaus.
Although all three credit bureaus filed written denials
against the lawsuit's allegations, the federal court saw things
differently with the judgement against Equifax.
More importantly, though, the lawsuit claimed the credit bureaus
lack a mechanism to repair the damage identity theft
does to a person's credit report.
In other words, you are on your own to clean up the
financial wreakage caused by identity theft based credit fraud.
So, our tip for today is to learn wisely from this identity theft
victim's tragic painful story. The credit bureaus, while mostly
diligent in their data protection and accuracy efforts, are reliant
upon the quality of the data reported to them. The fact
in this case that you've learned was a proven identity thief was
actually hired in a highly sensitive personal data rich information
was a mistake you can never control against.
However, there is a better way to seek a solution to the control
you deserve for your financial safety and well being.
Your best option to avoid this problem is to institute your very
own burgular alarm to warn you when you have fallen victim
to identity theft. By adopting a quality account and credit monitoring
system, you can avoid the severity and lengthy amount of harassment
you will face from debt collectors like this Virginia woman.