By: Robert J. Nahoum
Identity theft is a serious crime that can have a devastating impact on your financial and personal life. If you have been the victim of identity theft, you may be sued by a creditor for debts that you did not incur. However, there are a number of defenses that you may be able to raise, including identity theft.
In New York, a creditor must prove that you owe the debt before they can succeed in a lawsuit against you. If you can prove that you were the victim of identity theft, then the creditor will not be able to prove that you owe the debt. This is because the debt was incurred by someone else, not you, and without your authority.
To prove that you were the victim of identity theft, you will need to provide evidence that someone else used your personal information to open a credit account or make purchases in your name. This evidence may include:
- A police report
- An affidavit of identity theft
- A copy of your credit report showing unauthorized accounts
- Correspondence from creditors or debt collectors
- Documentation from the credit bureaus
If you can provide this evidence, then you may be able to successfully defend yourself against a debt collection lawsuit.
It is important to note that identity theft is a complex legal issue. If you have been sued by a creditor, you should speak with an attorney to discuss your options. An attorney can help you to understand your rights and can represent you in court if necessary.
In cases of identity theft, New York General Business Law §514 provides a statutory defense that a person being sued for a debt did not apply for, receive or use the credit card account in question. Also, New York General Business Law §514 makes it a statutory defense to a claim of credit card use that such use arose out of the unauthorized use of a credit card that was not delivered to the defendant or that such use arose after the creditor was notified of the unauthorized use.
New York General Business Law §514(2) states that:
So, if before the debt collector sues, the debtor shows that he or she was the victim of identity theft and the debt collector sues anyway, the debtor can recover his or her legal fees under NY GBL §514.
Here are some additional tips for defending yourself against a debt collection lawsuit:
- Respond to the lawsuit promptly. If you do not respond to the lawsuit, the creditor may get a default judgment against you. This means that the creditor will win the lawsuit and you will be ordered to pay the debt.
- File an answer to the complaint. In your answer, you should deny the allegations of the complaint and raise any defenses that you may have, including identity theft.
- Gather evidence to support your defenses. As mentioned above, you will need to provide evidence to support your claim that you were the victim of identity theft. This evidence may include a police report, a copy of your credit report, correspondence from creditors or debt collectors, and documentation from the credit bureaus.
- Hire an attorney. If you are facing a debt collection lawsuit, it is a good idea to hire an attorney. An attorney can help you to understand your rights and can represent you in court if necessary.
If you have been the victim of identity theft or if you need help settling or defending a debt collection lawsuit, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you. With office located in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley, the Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum defends consumers in debt collection cases throughout the Tristate area including New Jersey.