KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Each year, identities are stolen from millions of people. If you're victimized, you have the right to ask for records related to the theft.
A Knoxville woman says she's had a hard time learning the information she needs to prosecute the criminal.
Several federal laws protect victims of identity theft, and they all fall under one act. In 1970, Congress adopted the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Over the last 42 years, new amendments have tightened and toughened the rules. One of them deals with rights for identity theft victims. For instance, you have the right to get copies of documents related to your case.
In West Knoxville, Irene Campbell uses a computer to keep up to date with her hobby, raising ferrets.
But Irene says she rarely orders items online from her laptop. So in late July, she was surprised when she received a bill for $747 from a PayPal service called Bill Me Later. They called about the transaction.
"I told them I never opened an account, I've never applied for Bill Me Later or PayPal," Irene said. "I don't have this account. This is not mine."
Instead, her identity had been stolen. Within two weeks, Irene received a letter from Bill Me Later that said, "We have closed the account in order to prevent any future fraud."
But Irene wanted more information, not just having the account closed.
In the bill she received from Bill Me Later, "There were four transactions, all eBay-related charges. No details are provided. I want to find out who this person is, or who is involved. I want to prosecute," she said.
"I may not know who took my identity, but I have to protect myself and maybe others from this happening again," she added.
However, Irene ran into a road block getting that additional information. "It's like fighting tooth and nail," she said.
Under the FTC's Fair Credit Reporting Act, Irene's request for information should not have been like a tug of war. The act spells out the rights for victims of identity theft, as well as the responsibilities for businesses.
For example, you have the right to get copies related to the theft, like transaction records. And businesses covered by the law must provide the copies free of charge, within 30 days of receiving the request in writing.
Also, law enforcement agents that ask for these records may get them from the business without a subpoena, as long as they have the victim's permission.
To date, Irene has contacted law enforcement, her bank, credit card companies and she placed a fraud alert on her credit report, which alerts one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies.
She was urged to contact one of the three reporting agencies as well. However, she says, "They need proof of what Bill Me Later has found fraudulent, and I can't provide that."
Bill Me Later tells 6 On Your Side that information is on now its way to Irene, along with her credit reporting company and others.
"I want to find out who this person is, or who is involved. I want to prosecute, to help stop stuff like this from happening," Irene said.
If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.