The repercussions of identity theft can range from embarrassment to serious legal and financial injury. Assess your risk, safeguard your identity, and hire an attorney if your identity gets stolen.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is one of the most common crimes out there today, and criminals are constantly finding new ways to steal your information. These crimes involve the fraudulent use of the components that make up someone’s identity, such as SSNs, driver’s licenses, or credit cards. Hiring a lawyer greatly improves your ability to recover money stolen from your accounts.
Note that thieves may have used your identity to open new financial accounts, file fake tax returns, purchase property or vehicles, and even may have received medical care under your insurance. An attorney can fast-track the process when handling customer service departments, so you can get the attention of companies and recover your losses.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Identity theft can happen in a number of ways. Hackers are constantly advancing their data-stealing techniques. However, there are some tried and true causes of identity theft that every consumer should be aware of:
- Data Breaches – In today’s digital age, companies often store personal financial information for subscription services, autopay, or express checkout. Hackers can break into these companies’ servers to extract the personal information of thousands of people at a time.
- ATM or Card Skimmers – Hackers can place devices called skimmers that read your card’s information when you use it. The most common places for skimmers to be placed are in ATM devices or at gas pumps. Some have even been discovered at convenience stores and pharmacies.
- Digital Malware and Viruses – Hackers can access your personal information through phishing, fake websites, and file-sharing networks. Be vigilant when receiving emails from questionable accounts or when browsing online. In many cases, hackers will disguise their phishing attempts as recognizable brands or platforms.
- Physical Theft – Thieves can gain access to your personal information from stealing your mail, purse, or wallet. It is important to keep your personal belongings secure at all times and shred confidential information before throwing it out.
- Change Of Address – Another creative way hackers can steal your information is by changing your address with the services you use. Once the mail is rerouted to the new address, they can access whatever personal or financial information you normally get sent to your real address.
- Public WiFi – While public WiFi networks are convenient, rarely do they encrypt the connection. Most competent hackers can break into public networks and remotely access any devices that are connected to them. It is best to only use public WiFi networks if absolutely necessary.
What Type of Information Are Thieves Looking For?
Identity theft thieves can lift your digital fingerprint from many different sources. There are some commonalities between what information they are looking for:
- Full name, home address, and birth date
- Social security number
- Bank account information
- Credit card information
- Insurance account information, such as auto and health
How Can I Detect Identity Theft?
Sometimes it can be hard to know if your identity has been compromised. However, if you are vigilant with your passwords and online presence you can become aware of several signs that point to identity theft. Be on the lookout for the following:
- Any questionable activity you don’t recognize regarding your existing accounts
- Deposits, purchases, credit alerts, etc.
- No longer receiving mail at your primary address
- Calls or letters from debt collectors about debts you never personally incurred
- Unfamiliar charges on your accounts or new accounts you never opened
- Bills for services you never received, such as medical care
- Letter from the IRS regarding duplicate tax returns in your name
- News from a company you have done business with that your personal information was hacked in a data breach
- A sudden and unexplainable drop or increase in your credit score
How Do I Recover From Identity Fraud?
The first thing you can do is immediately contact your financial institutions and suspend any cards you may feel are compromised by identity theft. Because, with some of these cards you can block any further usage directly from the corresponding smartphone app.
The next step is to contact the institutions where you have discrepancies. If you see suspicious transactions, then reach out to the places or services where they occurred and inquire about the transactions. Close any accounts or cancel any subscriptions that you think may be compromised.
If you are certain you are dealing with a case of stolen identity, it is important that you contact the appropriate authorities. There are law enforcement divisions dedicated to fighting identity fraud. The police can help track the source of your data breach and help recover any lost assets from identity theft.
You should also set up a credit monitoring account if you don’t already have one. These services provide oversight on your credit accounts and will instantly alert you when there is suspicious activity. From there, you can either choose to temporarily freeze the account or close it out entirely. An attorney can also help you right some of the wrongs you encounter along the way, especially when faced with the legal repercussions of someone else’s actions done in your name.
Identity Theft Protections
Take proactive steps to protect yourself from identity theft. Some of these steps may seem like common sense. However, it’s surprising how often people willingly disclose personal or financial information online without a second thought. We recommend you take the following precautions to avoid someone stealing your identity:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited requests asking for personal information.
- Do not click any suspicious links in unsolicited emails.
- Enable all security and two-step verification protocols on your electronic devices.
- Use complex passwords and change them frequently.
- Install any firewall and malware detection software on your electronic devices.
- Properly shred or tear up any documents with personal or financial information before discarding them in the trash.
Are you facing financial or legal complications related to an identity theft issue? If that’s the case, we can connect you with the right attorney to help you resolve these problems before they spiral out of control.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!