The ABC’s of Identity Theft and Steps to Take If You Are a Victim
The Fair Credit Reporting Act defines identity theft as “a fraud committed or attempted using the identifying information of another person without authority.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(q)(3). One of the most troubling aspects of identity theft is that more times than not the perpetrator is someone that the victim knows, in my practice I have been involved in identity theft matters where the offender is: the significant other/spouse of the victim; the child/grandchild of the victim; friend of the victim; caretaker of the victim; and the cleaning lady of the victim. A Javelin Research and Study report noted that in 2014 there were 550,000 reports of identity theft perpetrated by someone the victim knew.
Most Common Types of Identity Theft
Identity theft can occur in many different instances, below are five areas, in no particular order, where identity theft often occurs:
Medical Identity Theft: By using another person’s name and insurance information, an individual can receive medical care and services. In addition to the negative financial impact this can have, one of the biggest concerns with this type of identity theft is it can have severe long-term consequences on the victim’s medical reports and future treatment.
Business/Commercial Identity Theft: An individual utilizes the businesses identity in order to obtain credit. Business/commercial identity theft is usually perpetrated by a current or former employee of the business. Businesses need to be cognizant of preventing employees from having any access to sensitive financial information.
New Account Fraud: An individual takes advantage of another individual with strong credit by using their personal information to create new accounts. I have seen many different types of accounts appear in this context, from credit cards to cell phones to utility bills, there are a vast amount of opportunities for the perpetrator to obtain credit. New account fraud is the most common type of identity theft that I see in my practice.
Identity Cloning Fraud: Identity cloning refers to all forms of identity theft in one; the thief literally takes over the other individual’s identity, in every aspect of their life. This type of identity theft is a rather rare occurrence, however, if it occurs is will potentially wreak havoc upon the victim for many years in the future.
Account Takeover Fraud: An individual uses another person’s existing personal and financial information for their own gain. I have seen account takeover fraud occur when the victim is hospitalized/sick for a long period of time and where the victim is on an extended vacation out of the country. This can include utilization of the victim’s credit cards as well as withdrawing monies from the victim’s bank accounts. This can include the use of existing credit cards or withdrawals from established bank accounts.
Immediate Steps to Take if You Have Been a Victim of Identity Theft
The first step an identity theft victim should take is to immediately contact an experienced identity theft attorney that can analyze the instant facts and circumstances and provide a go-forward strategy and minimize any detrimental impacts.
Second, contact the three major credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, and request that a “fraud alert” be put on your credit report. Request a copy of your credit report to determine if there are any unauthorized and/or fraudulent charges.
Third, contact the fraud department for each of your credit accounts. Report the identity theft to each creditor, even if the account has not been affected. Request that a “fraud alert” be placed on every open account. Maintain a written record of every conversation you have with the fraud departments, try to obtain their name, employee number, email address or facsimile number so that you can document your claim.
Fourth, contact your bank and advise them of the identity theft. Change any direct deposits that may be linked to compromised accounts.
Fifth, if your credit card information has been stolen then contact the credit card company immediately and advise them. Request a report of your most recent charges and dispute any that are not yours. Additionally, cancel the subject credit card and have a new account number and card issued.
If you have been a victim of identity theft then please contact Sweeney Law, P.A. immediately to protect your rights.
Sweeney Law, P.A. Regularly Represents Victims of Identity Theft
Brendan A. Sweeney, Esq., of Sweeney Law, P.A., The Florida Debt Warrior, regularly represents victims of identity theft. Brendan A. Sweeney, Esq., has been recognized as a Florida Legal Elite Rising Star Attorney in Consumer Law in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. If you have student loan issues then please contact Sweeney Law, P.A. at 954.440.3993 immediately to protect your rights.