What to do if you are a Victim of Identity Theft:
Identity theft is an illegal action that occurs when an individual wrongfully obtains and uses another individual’s identifying information, such as the person’s Social Security number, their name or credit card information, in any way that involves deception or fraud. The illegal act is typically committed for a financial gain, such as to obtain a line of credit, services or merchandise in the name of the victim.
The United States Government has instituted laws to punish perpetrators for identity theft. The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act makes identity theft a federal crime with attached penalties of up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Furthermore, the act names the Federal Trade Commission as the central agency for suspected victim’s to file complaints and obtain resources for mitigating their circumstances. If you are a victim of identity theft you must partake in a number of actions before contacting an identity theft lawyer. The following actions should be fulfilled before your search for identity theft lawyers commences:
• Once you are made aware of the fraudulent activity you must contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) and request that a fraud alert be attached to your credit profile
• Close all of your personal accounts, including your credit cards, ATM cards and phone accounts, which have been breached or possess the same PIN numbers and passwords as the compromised accounts.
• File a police report with your local department or in the jurisdiction in which the identity theft took place
• Contact the Federal Trade commission at 1-877-438-4334 or use the agency’s online Identity Theft Complaint form
• If your mail was tampered with, call the nearest Postal Inspection Service Office or file a notice of identity theft on-line by utilizing the United States’ Post Office’s Postal Inspection Service Identity Theft Complaint Service
• If you suspect that someone is using your Social Security for employment or work purposes, you must contact the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline to report the intrusion.
• If you have lost your personal checks or any financial card, stop payments and notify the underlying financial institution immediately.
If you have taken these steps, your identity theft problem will dissipate; however, you may seek legal action for compensation and punitive damages as a result of the psychological damages or opportunity costs (lost wages) placed on you because of the illegal act. The majority of identity theft situations will not necessitate the hiring of an identity theft lawyer; often times, these problems are resolved by your underlying financial institution. If your accounts are breached and used by another party to purchase goods, services or to obtain credit, your underlying institution will reimburse you for all monies lost. The respective financial institution will investigate the situation and prosecute the suspected party using their own identity theft lawyers. However, as stated above, you may also file a personal claim to recoup damages associated with stress or psychological distress. If you wish to file a personal claim against the party who stole your identity, you must seek the aid of identity theft lawyers.
If you are a victim of identity theft and wish to file a personal legal claim against the party that stole your information, you must hire an identity theft lawyer. Identity theft lawyers are dedicated legal professionals who are well-versed in consumer protection and identity theft law. These attorneys will explain the legal process, elucidate your rights and expedite a claim to recover punitive damages that arose because of the theft. Although an identity theft lawyer can provide an assortment of benefits, choosing the right attorney is often complicated.
How do I choose the right Identity Theft Lawyer?
Identity theft lawyers are expensive forms of legal help; the majority of identity theft lawyers will operate under a retainer or contingency platform. To find the right identity theft lawyer you must utilize the internet and referrals offered by friends and family. When looking for identity theft lawyers, you should first contact your state’s local BAR association to evaluate all identity theft lawyers in your area. The BAR will provide a list of all the licensed professionals in your state with notes concerning any disciplinary history or awards received if applicable. You may also contact a legal aid office in your area (reserved for low-income individuals) or the National Association of Consumer Advocates to find a suitable identity theft lawyer.
When you have narrowed your list of prospective identity theft lawyers, you must contact them to explain your case. Often times, an identity theft lawyer will refrain from representing you, because the case may already be handled by your financial institution. Furthermore, identity theft lawyers will prompt you to file complaints with the government so the state can investigate and subsequently persecute the responsible party.
In addition to persecuting a suspected party for punitive damages, identity theft lawyers can determine the legal course of action against credit bureaus and creditors if they do cooperate in removing fraudulent entries from your credit report.
Do I need an Identity Theft Lawyer?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act supplies you with specific rights when you are the victim of identity theft. The following list represents a summarization of these rights:
• If you are a victim of identity theft you have the right to place fraud alerts in your nationwide consumer files; this alert will inform creditors and other institutions that you are a prospective victim of identity theft.
• You have the right to observe copies of the information in your file and the right to obtain documents that relate to the suspected fraudulent transactions, including the accounts used and the amount of money stolen.
• You have the right to prevent a business entity from reporting information about you to credit or consumer agencies if you believe the information was triggered because of identity theft.
Understanding your rights will help you determine your need for an identity theft lawyer.