Ten Steps to Take if You’ve Been the Victim of Identity Theft
Identity theft is running rampant in our country. If you are the victim of identity theft, there are some important steps to take to ensure that you can restore your credit and won't be charged for these fraudulent charges.
Identity theft occurs any time a person or entity steals your personal information and subsequently uses it for their own gain. This can include using your information to make purchases, take out loans, purchase vehicles, start businesses, and even for fraudulent healthcare.
According to an unbiased study promoted by the Insurance Information Institute and published originally by Javelin Strategy & Research, $15 billion was stolen from United States consumers in 2015 as the result of identity theft. At least 13 million Americans were affected by this fraudulent activity, which was an increase from 12.7 million in 2014. While the study also showed that micro-chipped credit cards helped decrease credit card fraud, the study found that “new account fraud” increased by more than double from the previous year and now accounts for 20% of all fraud losses. New account fraud is the term for when an identity thief uses a person’s information to open an account at a financial institution.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) uses the Consumer Sentinel Network to track consumer fraud and identity theft complaints filed through federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies. They found that identity theft complaints increased 47% from 2014 to 2015.
What to Do If You’ve Been the Victim of Identity Theft
With identity theft running rampant in our country, there can be a lot of anxiety about steps to take if you’ve been victimized. Southern California attorney Howard D. Silver offers the following steps that can be helpful should you need assistance with an identity theft claim:
1. Have a fraud alert placed on your credit cards and bank accounts
2. Contact the police and have a full report created
3. Report your identity theft case to the Federal Trade Commission
4. Report the fraudulent activity to the fraud departments associated with all of your credit card companies and banking associations
5. Cancel any credit cards that were stolen and have it noted that they were closed at your request
6. Determine if you had any checks stolen and if so, cancel/close those accounts
7. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and report fraudulent activity associated with your social security number
8. Either place a fraud alert on your driver’s license number or have the number changed
9. Do not pay any debts resulting from identity theft and, if threatened by a collection agency for payment on a fraudulent debt, contact an attorney
10. Contact an attorney for help with your identity theft and consumer fraud case
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard D. Silver
Howard Silver has been an identity theft, lemon law, and consumer fraud attorney in Southern California for decades. He has the experience to seek compensation if you've had your credit affected by another stealing your information. Don't trust your case to just anyone; trust it to the best and most-experienced.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.