In 2020, there were over 1.4 million complaints of identity theft reported, double that of 2019.
The pandemic has caused financial hardship for many Americans. Identity thieves have had a field day and taken full advantage. As a result, the chances are high that you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft. Regardless of whether it’s a credit card or a Social Security number that’s taken, or whether a whole identity has been stolen.
Identity theft is something that no one ever expects to happen to them. But every year, millions of Americans become victims of identity theft. If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, you must act promptly. Taking simple precautions to protect yourself can optimize your chances of a refund for any money taken from you.
Hiring an ID theft attorney is not necessary in every case of identity theft. To ensure your protection, however, a qualified consumer protection attorney can be critical.
Knowing what to do if your identity has been stolen is critical if you want to protect yourself. Here’s what you should do and how an identity theft attorney may assist you.
ID theft and ID fraud are crimes that occur when someone acquires your personal information and uses it without your permission.
Identity theft may take place in several ways. However, all of them can be detrimental to you, your assets, money, and your credit if you are not careful. The motivations for identity theft range from financial gain to evil intent.
What are the most frequent kinds of identity theft or fraud that you can come across? And what steps can you take to better prevent yourself from being a victim? The following are some of the most common kinds, as well as some possible countermeasures.
Financial identity theft is the most frequent form of identity theft, accounting for more than 90% of all cases. The majority of the time, an identity thief is attempting to apply for a credit card, loan, or purchase something under the guise of someone else. As a result, this may harm a victim’s credit score and their potential to get a loan in the future.
Another common form of identity theft is for fraudsters to get your personal information, submit a tax return, and receive a refund due to you.
A fraudster will use your personal information to receive medical care in your name in medical identity theft. Unfortunately, this is becoming an increasingly severe issue in the healthcare sector.
In instances of employment ID theft, a scammer might use your Social Security number to pass a background check or meet job criteria. This is most common amongst people with a criminal record, ineligible, or poor work history.
The majority of individuals don’t think about identity theft in the context of their children until it’s too late. Criminals who steal your child’s personal information and identity use it to apply for credit cards, open bank accounts, or apply for loans. As a result, children are at a greater risk of having their identities stolen than adults.
Senior citizens make up a significant proportion of individuals targeted by fraudsters. This is because they are considered “easy prey.” In addition, older people are especially susceptible to identity theft because they are more trusting and less able to pinpoint a fraud when they encounter it.
According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study from October 2020, scammers are attacking more individuals over the age of 60 online than by phone.
The theft of a dead person’s identity, often known as ghosting, occurs when fraudsters use the period between a person’s death and the notification of the death. Fraudsters use this window as an opportunity to apply for credit cards and open bank accounts.
Criminal identity theft is when someone is arrested and gives someone else’s information to police authorities. Unfortunately, many people do not notice this kind of theft until a court issues a warrant for their arrest.
There are several basic steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. First, check your credit report from the three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian & TransUnion) annually to verify that the information included within is correct. For example, the presence of unfamiliar creditors or accounts on your credit report may show that you have been the victim of identity theft.
There are many ways to get your credit report. However, did you know that you can get a free copy of your credit report once a year? You can do this from each of the three major credit bureaus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also think about signing up for a credit monitoring service. These monitoring services will alert you when there are any changes in your credit reports.
In addition to your credit report, you should regularly check:
Some thieves’ tactics begin with small credit or debit transactions hoping that you would not notice them. You can prevent identity theft by checking your credit or debit accounts thoroughly for any unauthorized activity. Immediately let your bank or credit card provider know if you notice a transaction that you do not recognize.
In some instances, placing a security freeze or an initial fraud warning on your credit reports will help. This essential step prevents unauthorized financial transactions.
Identity theft may be effectively addressed by taking simple measures to re-secure your finances and inform creditors of the issue. The Federal Trade Commission has issued helpful advice to consumers on these types of activities.
Unfortunately, banking institutions and other creditors do not always fulfill their commitments, even when they are immediately informed of the crime. Several federal consumer protection laws protect people against illegal transactions and credit back stolen funds.
These protection laws are:
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) is federal legislation protecting customers who transfer money electronically. This applies when you use banking cards, ATMs, and automated transactions from a bank account. Among other safeguards, the EFTA allows for the correction of transaction mistakes.
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) was passed as part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act on October 28, 1974. The FCBA’s goal is to defend consumers from incorrect and unfair credit invoicing and credit card transactions. In addition, the act outlines and implements a process for addressing billing mistakes in consumer credit activities.
You have protection on your credit card and credit billing information through the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). It compels lenders to disclose loan cost data so you may compare loans.
For TILA-covered loans, you have three days to change your mind and cancel the loan without penalty. This right protects you from predatory lenders’ high-pressure sales methods.
Credit agencies often refuse to delete incorrect credit records related to identity crimes. However, these companies violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by neglecting to delete misinformation. This act requires credit agencies to undertake a reasonable inquiry into all disputed cases.
In these cases, a targeted person should seek the assistance of a lawyer. The best identity theft lawyer is one who focuses on defending consumers against identity theft and false reporting. A competent consumer protection lawyer with expertise in this area can assist the consumer in holding the banks and credit reporting companies accountable and will often be capable of representing the victim on a contingency basis.
Having an ID attorney on your side may help you recover financial losses and restore any harm you’ve suffered as a consequence of the theft. For example, if someone is opening accounts and making transactions in your name, you may need the services of a consumer protection attorney.
When looking for a lawyer, look specifically for lawyers that focus on consumer protection. These lawyers have the expertise needed to fight banks and credit agencies. Additionally, look for an attorney with experience with federal law. Because the majority of essential laws in this field are federal, you will need the services of an attorney with the necessary experience.
Remember to select an attorney who will represent the client, not someone accused of stealing an identity.
If you have suffered ID theft and the situation is not handled quickly, carefully, and with expertise, the consequences can be devastating. It can affect your finances and personal life.
This is likely to occur especially if creditors and credit agencies do not react promptly and positively when informed that ID theft has happened. Therefore, finding a competent and dedicated ID theft attorney is essential.
The Financial Justice Initiative was founded to help protect consumers in events such as identity theft. Our attorneys have extensive experience with federal statutes meant to protect consumers. They also have experience in holding financial institutions responsible for their negligence.
If your identity has been stolen and your consumer rights are violated, do not hesitate to contact the Financial Justice Initiative today.