An estimated 9 million people in the United States are victims of identity theft each year. This type of theft can cause problems that will linger for years.
It can damage your credit and reputation, forcing you to forgo some of life’s biggest decisions like getting a good job, finding an apartment or buying a house, or even going back to school.
Discovering Identity Theft
Discovering identity theft can be a scary thing. Once you discover that you have been the victim of identity theft, you need to take swift action to address the problem.
Although you can try to deal with it on your own, an identity theft attorney can help you get your life back on track after an identity thief strikes. They know and understand all of your rights and potential remedies under both federal and state laws.
Defining Identity Theft
Stealing someone’s identity is both a federal and state crime. The federal government defines identity theft as “the knowing transfer, possession, or use of a means of identification of another person.” That means that it is a crime to use any of your personal information.
Identity theft is similar to identity fraud, but they are unique concepts. Identity fraud involves using any means of false identification. It does not necessarily mean that the perpetrator has stolen someone else’s identity, but they are not using their own identifying information.
Related Link : Arrested for Identity Theft: What Charges Will I Face?
How Can Someone Steal My Identity?
With the increased accessibility and availability of technology, stealing someone’s personal information is becoming easier. Any time you use a credit card, check your bank account, or make a purchase online, you are putting yourself at risk. Although most of this information is securely encrypted, it is still possible to hack into a system to gather information.
There are also more traditional means of stealing someone’s identity as well, such as by nabbing their purse or wallet. Other methods include:
- Going through trash for identifying information (like mail, bank statements, or old credit cards)
- Stealing mail from the mail box or directing certain pieces of mail to another address
- Internet and telephone scams
- Eavesdropping or watching you on the computer in a public place
- Data breeches at banks, retail companies, and even government institutions
Related Link : 4 Common Types of Identity Theft in Florida
Working with an Identity Theft Attorney
Once you realize that your identity has been stolen, you need to take quick action to prevent further damage. Speak to an identity theft attorney right away. He or she can help you by:
- Filing a police report
- Filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Compiling and documenting your losses
- Contacting your creditors about accounts that were not opened by you or accounts that you did not use
- Contacting financial institutions to initiate fraud alerts
- Contacting debt collection agencies
- Contacting credit bureaus to report the fraud and begin working on removing the fraudulent information from your credit report
Dealing with an identity theft situation can be very stressful and time consuming if you try to go it alone. An identity theft attorney can help because they often know who to contact and creditors and other financial institutions are sometimes more receptive and cooperative if they realize that they are talking to an attorney. An identity theft attorney can also help you decide whether you have any remedies under state or federal law.
The Law Office of Paul J. Donnelly, P.A. can help if you have been the victim of identity theft. Call 305-757-3331 for a free case evaluation.
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