A brief guide to identity theft attorneys
If you are the victim of identity theft, your financial security is in jeopardy. There are many steps you can take without the help of an identity theft attorney to help protect yourself from any lasting problems. However, some people may want to turn to civil court for compensation. If identity theft happens to you, here are some things you should know.
How identity theft works
A criminal does not need much information to misuse your identity. Financial information that could be used include:
• Your credit or debit card number
• Your social security number
• Bank statements containing your bank account number and other information
There are a number of ways people can get this information. Financial statements you fail to shred can be used for information. Other times, bank accounts and credit cards may be opened up in your name without even being aware of it.
How to deal with identity theft
Once identity theft has happened, suddenly you may be open to expenses you did not incur or be charged with crimes you have not committed. If you do not take prompt steps to end the crime or are unaware of what is happening, your credit rating could be damaged.
Always scrutinize any financial statements you receive closely to make sure they match your actions. In some cases, you may be notified by your bank unusual charges being made with your name or to your account. No matter how you learn of the crime, steps you should take before consulting any identity theft attorneys include:
• Contact your bank. Cancel any cards you have and get new ones. Change all of your passwords. In many cases, your funds may be restored to you by the bank before they begin their own investigation, if any.
• Obtain a police report documenting any losses.
• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the main government body with control over identity theft issues.
• Get in touch with any business where identity thieves have made purchases or signed contracts in your name. You may have to talk to someone in their fraud department and submit a written statement.
• Contact TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, the three major US credit bureaus. Let them know about the fraud so that they can add it to your website. This will help prevent your credit record from being downgraded for actions that are not your fault.
All of these actions will help control the immediate effects of identity theft. They also help provide documentation from others concerning your case. This evidence will be helpful for any identity theft attorney whose services you may choose to engage later.
Identity theft and the law
It may take some time before you discover how much harm has been done to you. If you are fortunate, the police may be able to find the person or persons responsible. At this time, you may sue by yourself or with the help of a identity theft attorney in civil court if public prosecution is not undertaken.
However, it is possible that the culprit escapes detection. Identity theft attorneys may still determine that a bank or other financial institution may owe you compensation if they took inadequate steps to safeguard your information. Laws on this are continually changing and can vary from state to state. In many cases, filing a lawsuit of this kind counts as a personal injury lawsuit. Depending on the specifics of your case, an identity theft attorney should be able to determine if your complaint matches your state’s rules.
In some cases, financially responsible people will find that the identity theft has damaged their credit rating through no fault of their own. If erroneous information about your fiscal activity persists, you may want to hire an identity theft attorney who can help you restore your credit rating. Though you can conduct all the paperwork yourself, you may find it helpful to use the advice of someone experienced in this field.
Finding an identity theft attorney
Assuming your bank or other financial entity compensates you for all losses and ensures your financial safety, you may not need to go to civil court. You should only think about hiring an identity theft attorney if you are unable to get your credit reports accurately updated or think you can prove you are entitled to some form of financial compensation beyond what you have received.
Once the damage from your identity theft has been contained, you may begin think about filing a lawsuit. If you believe you have a case, you should start talking with identity theft lawyers quickly. States have different statutes of limitations as to how long you can take to file a lawsuit for damages. The sooner the act, the better a chance you have of pursuing an admissible case.
If you decide you need to take legal steps, ask friends and relatives for the names of any identity theft attorneys they have personally worked with and can vouch for. Referrals can also be obtained from a local or state bar association for a specialist in your field. Before you begin scheduling meetings with identity theft attorneys, check their disciplinary records online and make sure they are qualified to practice law.
Come prepared with all the relevant financial paperwork, police reports and other evidence. No lawyer can do their best without having all the information on hand. Be clear about what you’ve lost and what you hope to gain from litigation. Make clear how much time and money you can commit to the process. Do not trust any claims of settlements that seem to be impossible to collect on.
If you are suing for damages, some identity theft attorneys may be willing to work for a percentage of any settlement you obtain. Be sure to obtain written documentation of any financial agreement you arrive upon, including any pre-trial expenses you may have to pay for yourself.