California Civil Code Section 1788.18, part of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, regulates the conduct of debt collectors confronted with debtors claiming to be victims of identity theft. The code section gives guidance to both victims of identity theft and to debt collectors.
The Rosenthal Act requires the victim to provide the debt collector with the following:
- 1) A copy of a police report filed by the debtor alleging that he or she is a victim of identity theft, AND
- 2) A written statement that the debtor claims to be a victim of identity theft with respect to a specific debt being collected by the debt collector.
The debtor can comply with the written statement requirements in three ways:
- 1) Complete a pre-approved reporting for the victim of identity theft, which can be provided by the California Office of Privacy Protection or the FTC.
- 2) Use a form prepared by the debt collector.
- 3) Provide a written certification containing specified information and documentation. The following is some of the information that may be applicable:
- a) A statement that the consumer is a victim of identity theft.
- b) A copy of the consumer’s driver’s license or identification card.
- c) Any other documentation that supports the statement of identity theft.
- d) Specific facts supporting the claim of identity theft.
- e) Any explanation showing the consumer did not incur the debt.
- f) Any available correspondence disputing the debt after transaction information has been provided to the consumer.
- g) Documentation of residence of the consumer at the time of the alleged debt. This may include copies of bills and statements such as utility bills, tax statements or statements from businesses sent to the consumer showing that the consumer lived at another residence at the time the debt was incurred.
- h) A telephone number for contacting the consumer concerning any additional information or questions or direction that further communications to the consumer be in writing only with the mailing address specified in the statement.
- i) Information concerning who may have incurred the debt or is responsible.
- j) An expressed statement that the consumer did not authorize the use of his/her name or personal information for incurring the debt.
- k) A statement similar to the following: “I certify the presentations made are true, correct, and contain no material omissions of face” and is signed, dated and a place of signature is included.
Please note: Collectors who only receive oral notice of identity theft are not required to cease collection activities but must notify the alleged victim orally or in writing that the alleged victim must sumbit a written claim.