Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Have You Suffered From Identity Theft?
Ask an Identity Theft Lawyer for Legal Advice
According to the United States Department of Justice, identity theft and/or identity fraud are terms used to refer to any type of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal information in some way that involves deception, most often for financial gain. Common forms of identity theft and fraud include criminals watching a target type in their credit card number on a computer or phone, listening in when a target has to give their credit card number over the phone, and even retrieving pre-approved credit card offers out of the garbage if they were not torn up first. Another way that identity theft and fraud occur includes unsolicited emails that request a target’s personal information in exchange for some service or item that will never be delivered.
Laws can vary from state to state regarding identity theft litigation, and federal laws may apply as well. This is why it’s a good idea to contact an experienced identity theft attorney to discuss your case and learn what options for recovery are available to you.
What are the Statistics on Identity Theft?
Identity theft generally but not always involves a loss of money. The Consumer Sentinel Network maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tracks identity theft and fraud complaints each year in order to assess the frequency of these crimes, as well as the amount of money lost compared to the year before.
Let’s go over some important identity theft and identity fraud statistics from The Consumer Sentinel Network and FTC:
- 3.2 million identity theft and fraud reports were received in 2019
- 1.7 million identity theft reports were fraud-related
- 900,000 identity theft reports consisted of other consumer complaints
- 651,000 reports were specifically of identity theft
- Of these 1.7 million fraud cases, 23% reported money was lost
- In 2019, approximately $1.9 billion was lost related to identity theft and fraud complaints
Steps to Take If You Suspect Identity Theft
If you suspect you might be a victim of identity theft or fraud, there are a series of steps it is essential to take to prevent further financial harm from befalling you and your family. These steps include:
- Call the company where the fraud occurred. It’s important to immediately contact the companies where fraud occurred. You will most likely be asked to speak with their fraud department, explain the situation, and request a freeze on all accounts with them. This will prevent further charges from being added by the criminal. Additionally, it’s important to change all login information, passwords, and PIN numbers for any account with your information.
- Place a fraud alert through a credit bureau. Contact one of the three credit bureaus in charge of tracking your credit score to let them know that fraud occurred and that you would like to place a free one-year fraud alert on your account. This will prevent any line of credit being opened in your name without official verification from yourself.
- Report the identity theft. Reporting the identity to the FTC through a government-provided online form will allow IdentityTheft.gov to create a recovery plan for you. This can prove to other businesses that you were the victim of identity theft, which protects you with certain rights.
- File a police report. This is not a mandatory step, but many people choose to file an identity theft report with their local police office.
- Close any new accounts opened in your name. It’s important to call each business with a new account opened in your name, explain what happened, and cancel the account. It’s also a good idea to request a letter of confirmation which can help remove damage from your credit report.
- Contact each of the three credit bureaus. It’s important to contact each credit bureau after you have obtained a copy of your identity theft report from the FTC and any letters from involved businesses that can help prove that fraud occurred. Submitting this information to all three credit bureaus can help repair some of the damage done to your credit score as a result of a criminal’s fraudulent use of your information.
How Can an Attorney Help With Identity Theft?
The process for reporting identity theft or fraud, canceling accounts, and beginning the recovery process can be complicated and multi-faceted. Identity theft attorneys are well-versed in these tasks and can help you complete them as efficiently and effectively as possible, offering you a better chance at making financial recovery in a timely manner. Areas in which an attorney can assist include:
- Filing a police report.
- Filing an FTC report and obtaining necessary copies.
- Contacting involved companies and requesting letters of proof of fraud.
- Communicating with credit bureaus regarding the situation and evidence needed to correct unjust damage to your credit score.
- Communicating with debt collectors regarding the situation.
To learn more about identity theft and how you can pursue recovery, seek legal counsel from an experienced identity theft attorney.