Identity Theft in Phoenix, AZ
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 in Phoenix, Arizona if your identity gets stolen.
Federal Trade Commission data shows over 28,100 identity theft reports from Arizona in 2021. In addition, the majority of those reports, 21,302, came from the Phoenix area. The most common type of identity theft in Phoenix involves government documents or benefits fraud. This type of identity theft, specifically unemployment fraud, has increased significantly in the last few years. As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security has its own reporting and investigation process to handle false unemployment claims.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in the modern world, and criminals are constantly finding new ways to steal your information. These crimes involve the fraudulent use of components of your identity, such as SSNs, driver’s licenses, or credit cards.
Thieves may have already used your identity to open new financial accounts without your knowledge. Other criminal actions can include fake tax returns, fraudulent purchases, and receiving medical care under your insurance. While dealing with customer service departments for a solution, an experienced Phoenix, AZ attorney can fast-track the process. In some circumstances, taking this step is necessary to get the attention of companies and recover your losses.
How Does Identity Theft Happen in Phoenix, Arizona?
Identity theft can happen in many ways. Hackers are constantly advancing their data-stealing techniques. However, there are some long-standing causes of identity theft that every consumer should be aware of:
- Data Breaches – Companies often store personal financial information for subscriptions, auto-pay, 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 are in ATM devices or at gas pumps. Some have even found their way into convenience stores and pharmacies.
- Digital Malware and Viruses – Hackers can access your information through phishing, fake websites, and file-sharing networks. Be vigilant when receiving emails from questionable accounts or when browsing online. Often, hackers will disguise their phishing attempts as recognizable brands or platforms.
- Physical Theft – Thieves can access your personal information by stealing your mail, purse, or wallet. It’s critical to keep your personal belongings secure 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 different services you use. Once the mail reroutes to the new address, they can access the information you normally get sent to your real address.
- Public WiFi – While public WiFi networks are convenient, they rarely encrypt the connection. Most competent hackers can break into public networks and remotely access devices connected to them. Only use public WiFi networks if absolutely necessary, and always with a VPN.
What Are Some Phoenix, Identity Theft Laws
Under Arizona law, it is illegal to take, purchase, manufacture, record, possess, or use someone else’s personal identity information for an unlawful purpose or to cause loss. The crime is a class 4 felony, with a standard sentence of 2.5 years in prison. However, keep in mind that identity theft is rarely the only charge. Most identity theft defendants are also facing additional charges, such as burglary or fraud. For example, Fox 10 News reports that a local nursing assistant is facing identity theft, credit card theft, and fraudulent scheme charges. She stole identity information from residents at her employer care facilities and made fraudulent purchases in their names.
How Can I Detect Identity Theft?
Sometimes it can be hard to know if your identity has become 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 about a data breach
- A sudden and unexplained drop or increase in your credit score
How Do I Recover From Identity Fraud in Phoenix, Arizona?
The first thing you can do is immediately contact your financial institutions and suspend any compromised cards. Some companies will also allow you to block any further usage directly from their app.
The next step is to contact the institutions where you have discrepancies. If you see suspicious transactions, reach out to the places or services where they occurred. Additionally, you should close any accounts or cancel any subscriptions that may have become compromised.
There are multiple online resources for victims of identity theft. At the state level, the Arizona Attorney General, Judicial Branch, and Department of Revenue all provide information and recommendations on their websites. Locally, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is an excellent resource as well. All of these agencies suggest contacting the credit bureau to place a fraud alert on your credit report. In addition, it is very important to involve local law enforcement. Fortunately, the Phoenix Police Department provides an identity theft packet to help you minimize your damages after you report this crime.
You should also consider a credit monitoring account if you don’t already have one. These services provide oversight on your credit accounts and alert you when there is suspicious activity. You can either temporarily freeze the account or close it out entirely. A qualified Phoenix attorney can also help you right some of the wrongs you may encounter along the way.
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 disclose personal information 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.
Work with an Experienced Local Lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona
Are you facing financial or legal complications related to an identity theft issue in Phoenix, AZ? If that’s the case, we can help connect you with the right attorney to help you resolve these problems before they spiral out of control. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Arizona state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!