Q: Someone made false medical claims under my 12-year-old son’s name.
Two bills went to collections. I have health insurance, but I am disputing this because my son did not make these claims.
Meantime, my credit is being affected. My insurance has gone up, my limits are being lowered, and my inactive credit cards are being closed due to derogatory public records and collections.
Should I tell my credit card companies what’s going on and dispute it? And can I get these collections off my credit report?
A: This is, unfortunately, a bad case of identity theft. You need to protect yourself and your son in a number of ways, starting by pulling your most recent credit reports, examining them for any other accounts that you may not know about, and then putting a credit freeze on your credit reports.
Read this article for more information about how a credit freeze can protect your credit rating.
Additionally, if you know who made those claims, you should report that person to the proper authorities — both the hospital and healthcare provider, and the police.
The accounts you mentioned are in collections that wound up on your credit report. So I imagine, the identity thief is probably someone you know, love or trust. If this person was able to use your son’s information, they presumably had knowledge of your home address and – more importantly – sensitive data such as your social security number.
Notify the hospital or clinic where the services were performed that it was definitely not your son. Then ask if you (or the attorney you mentioned hiring) can investigate the hospital’s records related to the medical claims you’ve been billed for. The identity thief likely filled out some forms, and you’ll be able to see if they did, in fact, list your social security number and other personal information of yours.
This may give you a clue into who had access to such private information about you. Even if it turns out that your information was merely misappropriated by a complete stranger, you should dispute this information with
the credit bureaus.
Let them know that you were the victim of identity theft and the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) may remove those collection accounts.
Read this post for the websites for filing an online dispute with the credit bureaus.
Regarding your credit cards, yes, do notify them also of the identity theft and that this is the reason for the collections and public records on your credit file.
But honestly, I wouldn’t expect much from them. Unfortunately, the damage has been done. And while it’s good to put your creditors on notice about the identity theft, I doubt that those creditors will re-open your cards or restore your previous credit limits.
Your best bet is to probably wait to clean up this identity theft mess first, then re-apply for a new credit card and/or a new increase in your credit limit.
Lastly, I would also suggest that you enroll in a credit monitoring service. That way you’ll be able to monitor your credit reports and make sure nothing fishy is going on, such as unauthorized accounts you didn’t open.