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Identity Theft Attorney: What Do They Do?

Have you been the victim of identity theft? Find out what to do, how to prevent future identity theft, and get connected with a lawyer who can help you.

evident Editorial Team
September 18, 2023
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In the age of digitization, where every transaction, every click, and even our personal interactions often occur online, the dark shadow of identity theft looms larger than ever. As our world grows increasingly interconnected, our personal information becomes more accessible, making it a tantalizing target for those with nefarious intentions. If you've been the victim of identity theft, an identity theft attorney can help.

In this article, we will dive deep into identity theft, the essential role of an identity theft attorney, and how they can guide victims through the turbulent aftermath of such an incident. We will also explore preventive measures that can be taken to safeguard oneself from becoming a statistic in this disturbing trend. So, whether you're a concerned individual or someone who's unfortunately already been affected, this guide will shed light on the path ahead.

Let's dig in.

Key Takeaways

What is Identity Theft?

At its core, identity theft is obtaining and using someone else's personal information without their knowledge or consent, often with malicious intent, primarily for financial gain. But what exactly does this mean, and how does it manifest in our everyday lives?

What Constitutes Personal Information?

Personal information can encompass many types of data, including but not limited to:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Bank account numbers
  • Debit and credit card details
  • Personal addresses
  • Date of birth
  • Driver's license numbers

How Do Identity Thieves Operate?

Identity thieves have evolved, adopting sophisticated means to achieve their ends. Some common methods they employ include:

  1. Phishing Attacks: Cybercriminals send seemingly legitimate emails, hoping to lure victims into providing their personal information. 
  2. Data Breaches: Hacking into databases of companies or websites to extract personal details of their users.
  3. Mail Theft: Intercepting pre-approved credit offers, bank statements, or tax information.
  4. Skimming: Using a device to collect credit card information or your debit card number during a legitimate transaction.
  5. Physical Theft: Through stolen wallets, purses, or even burglary.

Once these criminals obtain the desired information, they can commit a range of fraudulent acts, such as opening new accounts in the victim's name, making unauthorized transactions, or even taking loans. 

Impact of Identity Theft

Identity theft can significantly impact someone's financial and emotional life. Here are a few of the impacts that can manifest:

  • Financial Impact: Unauthorized transactions can drain bank accounts, and unsanctioned loans can accrue significant debt.
  • Credit Score Damage: Fraudulent activities can tarnish one's credit score, affecting future financial endeavors like loan approvals or housing applications.
  • Emotional and Psychological Strain: Beyond the tangible losses, victims often undergo stress, anxiety, and feelings of violation.
  • Time and Effort: Rectifying the fallout of identity theft can be time-consuming, with victims needing to contact credit reporting agencies, financial institutions, and sometimes even the police.

By understanding the anatomy of identity theft, we're better prepared to counteract it. And if you need help navigating identity theft, an identity theft attorney can help.

Role of an Identity Theft Attorney

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Identity theft is an intricate crime that leaves a web of complications. While many individuals understand the basics of reporting unauthorized transactions to their banks or getting a new credit card, the path to full recovery and protection can be more convoluted.

This is where the expertise of an identity theft attorney comes into play.

What Does an Identity Theft Attorney Do?

Navigating Legal Complexities: Identity theft spans various legal arenas, from criminal to civil law. An experienced identity theft attorney understands the nuances of laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, ensuring that victims' rights are upheld, and they get the restitution they deserve.

Addressing Credit Report Discrepancies: One of the lingering consequences of identity theft is the potential damage to the victim's credit report. Attorneys help clients challenge and rectify their credit report inaccuracies, liaising with credit reporting agencies and creditors to make necessary amendments.

Setting Up Fraud Alerts: If someone suspects they've fallen prey to identity thieves, an attorney can guide them through setting up a fraud alert. This act ensures that credit agencies require additional verification before new accounts are opened in the victim's name.

Legal Representation: In cases where legal action becomes necessary, either against the identity thief or in disputes with financial institutions or credit agencies, an attorney will represent the victim's interests in court, ensuring that justice is served.

Why It's Crucial to Have a Lawyer for Identity Theft

Deep Understanding of Laws: The legal landscape surrounding identity theft is vast and often complex. An identity theft lawyer will thoroughly know state-specific and federal regulations, providing insights crucial for the victim's recovery.

Swift and Efficient Resolution: With their vast network and experience, attorneys can expedite processes that might otherwise be time-consuming for the average person, such as disputes with credit reporting agencies or setting up fraud alerts.

Advocacy and Support: Being a victim of identity theft can be isolating and overwhelming. Having an attorney means having an advocate who will stand by the victim, offering legal support and emotional reassurance during a trying time.

Protection Against Future Attacks: An identity theft attorney can offer advice and strategies to prevent future identity theft, such as recommending security freezes or guiding clients on safely storing personal identifying information.

While it's possible to navigate the aftermath of identity theft independently, having an expert in your corner, like an identity theft lawyer, can make the journey smoother, more efficient, and, ultimately, more successful.

Whether seeking restitution or ensuring one's credit and reputation remain untarnished, the value of professional assistance from identity theft lawyers cannot be understated.

Immediate Steps to Take After Identity Theft

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The moments following the realization of your stolen identity can be fraught with panic, confusion, and distress. Knowing the immediate steps to take can make a significant difference in containing the situation and initiating recovery.

By acting swiftly and decisively, victims can significantly mitigate potential damages.

What You Should Do Immediately After Detecting Identity Theft

If you think you've been a victim of identity theft, you'll want to take several actions immediately. Here's where to start:

  1. Contact Financial Institutions: One of the first actions should be to immediately contact your bank or any relevant financial institution. Inform them about the suspected identity theft to freeze or secure any affected accounts. This step can prevent further unauthorized transactions.
  2. Initiate a Fraud Alert: Reach out to one of the three major credit reporting agencies— Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion—to place a fraud alert on your credit profile. This alert mandates businesses to verify your identity before issuing credit, safeguarding against unauthorized accounts.
  3. File a Police Report: Visit your local police station and file an official report about the identity theft. While they may not always be able to catch the thief, having this report can be crucial when disputing fraudulent charges or when seeking legal recourse.
  4. Report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC manages a centralized complaint system for victims of identity theft. By submitting a report, you're adding to a database that helps law enforcement track and apprehend identity thieves. You can also obtain a recovery plan tailored to your situation through the FTC's identity theft unit.
  5. Check Your Credit Reports: Obtain credit reports from all three major agencies. Scrutinize them for any unauthorized accounts or discrepancies. It's essential to catch and dispute these as early as possible.
  6. Change Passwords and PINs: For any potentially affected or compromised accounts, immediately change your passwords and PIN numbers. When creating new passwords, ensure they are strong, unique, and not easily guessable.

Ensuring Long-Term Safety After Identity Theft

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Navigating the complex landscape of identity theft recovery can be overwhelming, but proactive measures can significantly mitigate long-term risks and prevent identity theft.

Here are some key strategies—from monitoring your financial accounts to educating your community—that can help you regain control and ensure your long-term safety.

  1. Monitor Your Accounts: Regularly scrutinize your bank statements and credit reports for unusual activity. Monitor your credit accounts. Quick detection can lead to swift resolution.
  2. Security Freeze: Consider placing a security freeze on your credit profiles. This action locks down your credit, preventing any institution from accessing your credit report without explicit permission.
  3. Update Your Mailbox: If you suspect your mail might be intercepted, consider updating to a secured mailbox or setting up electronic statements for your accounts.
  4. Stay Informed: Cyber threats and identity theft techniques are ever-evolving. Stay updated on the latest scams, phishing tactics, and best practices for online safety.
  5. Educate and Share: Talk to friends and family about safeguarding personal identifying information. Sharing your experience can protect loved ones and create a more vigilant community.

Navigating the aftermath of identity theft is undeniably challenging, but recovery is entirely attainable with the right steps and guidance. For many, considering professional help, such as hiring an identity theft attorney, can be valuable in this journey.

People Also Ask

One of the most common reactions to identity theft is a flurry of questions fueled by concerns and the urgent need for clarity.

Below, we address some frequently asked questions on this topic, shedding light on areas that many find confusing or troubling.

What Should You Do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft?

When faced with identity theft, swift action is paramount:

  1. Immediately contact your banks and credit card companies to report suspicious activities.
  2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports with one of the major credit bureaus.
  3. File a police report detailing the incident.
  4. Document every step and maintain copies of all correspondences related to the theft.
  5. Consider seeking advice or representation from an identity theft lawyer to navigate legal complexities.

What is the Penalty for Identity Theft in Maryland?

baltimore, harbor, city

In Maryland, identity theft is treated with great seriousness. The penalties vary based on the amount fraudulently obtained:

  • For amounts less than $500, it's considered a misdemeanor with potential jail time of up to 18 months and fines up to $5,000.
  • For amounts over $500, it's deemed a felony with a maximum prison sentence of five years and fines reaching $25,000.

How Much Does Identity Theft Cost a Person?

The costs associated with identity theft can vary widely based on the extent of the fraud:

  • Direct Financial Loss: This includes funds stolen or costs linked to unauthorized transactions.
  • Credit Impact: A tarnished credit score can lead to higher interest rates or loan denials.
  • Time and Effort: The hours spent on recovery, such as liaising with banks or disputing charges, translate into lost wages or personal time.
  • Emotional Costs: The stress and mental anguish of identity theft can't be understated.

What is the Law on Identity Theft in Texas?

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Texas has stringent laws against identity theft:

  • Convictions can range from a Class B misdemeanor (for possession of another's identifying information without permission) to a first-degree felony (if the offender possesses the information of more than 50 individuals).
  • Fines can vary vastly, and jail sentences can extend from 180 days for a Class B misdemeanor to 99 years for a first-degree felony.

While these answers provide a starting point, every case can be unique. Those affected are encouraged to seek legal advice and gather as much information as possible to make informed decisions.

Conclusion: Safeguarding Your Identity

In an era marked by extensive digital footprints and ceaseless online transactions, the threat of identity theft is an ever-present shadow. While the digital age brings unparalleled convenience, it also presents unique challenges. However, with awareness, proactive measures, and the right resources at one's disposal, it's possible to significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to identity thieves.

Understanding the significance of an identity theft attorney cannot be emphasized enough. Their role isn't just about legal proceedings or rectifying credit reports; it's about guiding victims through one of the most trying periods of their lives. With their expertise, navigating the murky waters of identity theft becomes considerably more manageable.