You may have seen the movies where the antagonist takes the face of a protagonist or the main character is seen spending money that belongs to someone else. These, in real life, are cases of identity theft. But what you don’t see is an identity theft lawyer entering to save the person whose identity has been stolen. Although movies might depict it as a funny scenario, in the real world it is far from that as we have seen news of people getting their lives destroyed trying to prove their innocence as victims of identity theft.
If you’re wondering whether or not you require an identity theft lawyer, well, it depends on the situation you’re in. There are 7 categories of identity theft resulting in 7 types of identity theft penalties. Before you get a definitive idea on whether or not you require an identity theft lawyer, let’s go over the different types of identity thefts. Lawyers of identity theft are well-versed in many different types of identity theft and therefore you need to understand which category your case falls in.
Types of identity theft
In the United States, we see billions of dollars escaping people’s bank accounts each year under identity theft. The umbrella of identity theft is vast and to understand if you require an identity theft lawyer you need to look at the situation you’re in and the type of identity theft you’ve fallen victim to.
Medical identity theft
The medical prices in the United States are off the charts giving rise to medical identity theft. This is where your personal security information, insurance details, and other relevant information are misused by the thief to avail medical services in your name.
Thieves can take advantage of the medical care provided to you, access your medical records and even get medication. Those that use your medical insurance can also be related to insurance theft which we will discuss later on. This may not seem like a huge crime to you but if the records of the thief get mixed up with your medical records, this can lead to serious medical complications to you in the future.
Medical identity theft often happens when you provide your medical details and social security and insurance number to fraudulent people. Stay away from websites that require such details unless it’s a trusted website.
Tax identity theft
These types of identity thieves use your social security number to get a job or get additional income by showing your child as their dependent. If you haven’t reported any additional wages and get a notification for that or if you get a notification that states you have filed for multiple returns are some of the signs that you’ve fallen a victim to tax identity theft. Never give your tax information over the phone as it can be a part of an elaborate scam.
New account identity theft
New account fraud is on the rise and a quick way for scammers to make a buck load of money. Identity thieves will take your social security number and use it to open multiple new bank accounts under your name. Once the accounts are active, they will apply for various credit cards and max it off leaving you with the financial burden of paying the credit card companies back.
This has been happening to many people and your credit scores are severely affected by this. In such cases, you might want to consider getting an identity theft lawyer to deal with your case and give you a new slate.
Existing account identity theft
In some stores in the United States, the retailers can be more than accommodating, allowing users to pay for things even if they have forgotten their credit card. This is misused by identity thieves who go into stores with your personal information including social security numbers, do their shopping, and claim to have forgotten their credit card. Retailers use personal information instead and you will get a call soon with all your purchases made that need to be paid off.
Employment identity theft
This is when the identity thief uses your personal information solely to secure a job. This can be scary if the IRS calls you up to pay for taxes for income that you’ve never received.
An employment identity theft causes serious complications for the victims in the future affecting their employment opportunities. If you’re stuck in such a predicament, perhaps you might need to call in an identity theft lawyer to look into your case.
Social security identity theft
We’ve already discussed how identity thieves can use social security information to get a job and open accounts or pay for shopping. However, this is a bit different. Here, the thieves use your beneficiary’s social security details to open up accounts and redirect beneficiary payments into their accounts instead.
Criminal identity theft
This kind of identity theft happens when the thief provides your details to law enforcement for the crimes they have committed. With your details showing up on the system, the law enforcers are led to believe that you have committed the crime.
The severity of the crime depends on the thief and their intent to commit it. If they are confident in committing huge crimes then any charge might befall you but some might simply use your details to get out of a traffic violation. If you’re stuck in a huge crime committed by someone then it is best to speak to an identity theft lawyer.
Identity theft charges will depend on the damages that have been done. These can vary from state to state with each state having its laws in place. Check the crime committed to be able to understand how deep in the water you are. You may need lawyers for fraud and a strong identity theft defense to get out of those charges and prove your innocence.
Although you may not have committed the crime, the process of proving that can be tiring for many. Before searching for an identity theft lawyer near me or an identity theft attorney near me, you may be considering taking on the issue yourself. Let’s look at the benefits or drawbacks of taking on the case yourself and getting an identity theft lawyer or an identity theft attorney involved.
Dealing with identity theft without identity theft lawyers
Many would want to pursue their case themselves without any aid from identity theft lawyers. This can prove to be a difficult task as convincing a business that you have been part of an identity theft scam is not easy. For example, if you want to close a bank account in your name which has been used to get credit cards by the thieves you can easily do so as it is in your name, however, if you wish to track down the thief you would need to convince the bank that you’ve been part of an identity theft scam.
Without an identity theft lawyer, proving to the bank that you’ve been scammed and need help tracking down the thief can be difficult. Many companies in the US receive requests to provide sensitive information to locate the thief but the companies can not do so until a lawyer is involved in the situation. Sensitive information can not be provided to anyone who walks in and asks until a lawyer gets involved.
Many states have ensured proper procedures for people to go through if they have been part of the identity theft scam. These procedures help the victims solve their case and get their records clean without the need for an identity theft lawyer. However, this process does take time and is not that easy to go through.
How does an identity theft lawyer help your cause?
With the process to obtain information to track down the thieves so difficult and time-consuming, you require a lawyer for identity theft to expedite this process and conclude the case. A lawyer is your gateway to getting corporations to listen to your plea. Aggravated identity theft can become complicated if the case is not closed.
In many situations, you will be on the phone with a customer service representative or waiting for the line to transfer to the next available customer service representative. This can be time-consuming for many, however, once you’ve reached the customer service representative, you may find that they’re not trained enough to help you with your situation. Let’s look at the same example of approaching a bank.
You’ve gone to the bank and are waiting in line to approach a banking officer or you’re on the phone waiting for the bank’s customer service representative to get to you. Once it’s your turn, you may find that the banking officer is not trained enough to deal with your situation. They will file a complaint from their end but we all know that it takes a long time for organizations to get back.
Now if you have an identity theft lawyer on your back, things might get a bit simpler. A lawyer will immediately send a letter to the bank’s legal department. The bank or any other organization has a legal team to keep them away from any legal troubles that may befall the company.
In this case, the legal team will be quick to respond to the lawyer giving you access to sensitive information quicker than if you were to go through the complaint’s procedure. Sending a letter straight to the legal department highlights the severity of the issue which needs to be addressed immediately.
Your identity theft lawyer knows which section of the law to use to retrieve any sensitive information from companies. This is important because if you don’t know what legal rights you have, you may find it difficult to talk to a company to comply with your requests.
The expertise and knowledge of the law from an identity theft lawyer is more than enough for an organization to comply. It is not that a company does not want to help a citizen or a victim of fraud out but company policies dictate handing out sensitive information. Identity theft attorneys can make the companies understand your legal rights if you have been a victim of fraud.
Tips to help you avoid identity theft
Anyone can become a victim of identity theft if they are not careful enough. Here are some tips that you can follow to secure yourself from any possible identity thefts in the future.
- You should consider freezing your credit so that new credit files can not be opened. You can later unfreeze your credit whenever you want to.
- Never give your social security number to anyone unless you know it is required by a trusted organization. If people ring you up to ask for a social security number, simply refuse.
- You may get emails that seem to be from official government organizations but upon further inspection, they aren’t. Never respond to such emails as you can easily fall victim to identity theft.
- Ensure that you have a really strong password and authentication process on all your accounts; social media, email addresses, bank accounts, and insurance accounts.
- Register for alerts. These are services provided by financial institutions that send messages to the account or card owner whenever a financial transaction occurs. If you have not made the transaction, you can immediately call the bank and block the card and the transaction before it is too late.
- Always shred your old paperwork and hide the new ones in a safe place where only you can access it. Scammers use old paperwork to dig through sensitive information, put pieces together and eventually scam you.
- Watch your credit report regularly for any signs of fraud or scams. You may lookout for additional accounts opened or fishy transactions. This goes for your financial and medical statements too.
The bottom line
There are many different types of identity theft and the situation you’re in depends on what level of crime is being committed. If the crime is small, then taking on the case yourself can be the right way to go about things. However, if the crime is severe, then having a lawyer on your side to expedite the process and clear your name on the list of crimes committed is the best way forward.
We can not tell you the legal predicament you’re in because that is for a lawyer to examine your case and give a verdict. However, what we can recommend is to get to the bottom of the case as soon as possible before it causes any complications.