Identity theft occurs when somebody uses your personal information like name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), bank or credit card account number or any other identifying information without your consent or knowledge to open accounts, deceit or commit fraud. It can be unpleasant to be a victim of identity theft because you have to deal with a complex array of legal challenges, filing the appropriate police report or identity theft report with a Federal Trade Commission, placing a credit freeze on your credit reports, or lodging credit bureau disputes. You might need to take up all these challenges to clean up your good name.
How Can Someone Get To My Personal Identifying Information And Steal My Identity
There are many ways how someone can get access to your personal identifying information. Some of the methods criminals use may include storage devices for skimming to get to your credit or debit card account numbers. Thieves usually use credit card numbers to buy items they can easily resell for cash. But no method is strange to criminals, unfortunately. They will also dig through your garbage in search of your mail from the bank or any document with any of your personal information, or with your Social Security Number. Sometimes a stolen wallet or a stolen purse is just the beginning of a larger operation of misuse of your personal information.
Criminals can also get to your personal information by stealing your mail from your mailbox. When rummaging through your mailbox they are looking for credit card statements, new checks, tax information, or pre-approved credit offers. Any paper containing your personal information may be valuable to a skilled criminal.
Once the criminals have your personal information, they may perform numerous frauds. Usually, it is opening credit card accounts using your name, birth date and SSN. They go and spend money without paying bills on those credit cards and, as a result, delinquent bills are reported on your credit report. Also, they may take loans in your name or establish services in your name.
Identity thieves often divert the address on your accounts, so you are not aware of the charges and it takes some time before you realize there is a problem. This tactic gives thieves more time for spending more money from your accounts and credit cards.
When someone gives your name and personal information to the police instead of their own, it is also identity theft. This can be extremely unpleasant because the police may issue an arrest warrant in your name. It can be hard to explain to the police when they knock on your door that you are a victim of identity theft.
Indications Of Identity Theft
Failing to receive bills and mail from the bank and other financial institutions may be an indication of identity theft. This could be a signal that your address has been diverted by identity thieves. You may be denied credit or a loan because of a low credit score which may come as a surprise to you. Your credit score could plunge because of delinquent rates and payments that you didn’t know of. If you see accounts you didn’t open on your credit report and bills for the services you didn’t establish, there is a high possibility that you are a victim of identity theft. A strong indication of identity theft is receiving calls from businesses about the products or services you didn’t buy.
Sometimes these signals are just a result of a simple mistake. But you should not ignore these facts. Always contact institutions or businesses to find out what is causing the situation. If the accounts are open and loans taken in your name, creditors may even file a lawsuit against you, for the money you owe them. When the situation escalates and the court is involved, it can be quite tricky to explain that you have no idea what is going on. When you are facing the situation described here you will probably need a lawyer. It is wise to find a lawyer with rich expertise in identity theft.
You Can Prevent Identity Theft
There are certain measures you can take to prevent being a victim of identity theft. Here are some tips from Identity a theft lawyer St Louis of Cook Lawyer LLC on how to protect yourself. The most important thing is to be cautious with your personal identifying information.
- You should check your credit report regularly. Often you check the better. Due to the pandemic, you can check your reports every week for free through April 2022 at com. Try to do it at least every month. Thoroughly review your credit report. You should be able to identify all the items and activities contained in your credit report. Accounts or activities that you are not familiar with are indications of a mistake or even identity theft.
- When using your credit card always keep it in sight. Don’t let anyone take your credit card away when paying. For example, when paying at a restaurant, a waiter should bring a POS terminal to you, not take your credit card away, and then come back with a receipt. Every time your credit card is used by someone else, you could become a victim of skimming. Information on a credit card can be stolen in a second with a device called a skimmer.
- Keep your mailbox locked and empty it daily. Don’t give a chance to thieves to get to your mail that contains your personal information.
- Get a shredder and shred all the utility bills, credit card statements, solicitations, and all the other documents that contain your personal financial information. If you don’t have a shredder at least tear up all the papers with your personal information before you throw them away. Leave nothing to “dumpster divers”.
What Should You Do When Identity Theft Occurs
When you are a victim of identity theft, there are several steps to be taken to prevent further damage. The first thing to do is to contact companies and financial institutions where the identity theft occurred. You have to explain your situation and ask them to close or freeze the accounts that have been compromised. If you don’t do this they will proceed to send you bills and report delinquent payment rates. They may even file a lawsuit against you for delinquent payment rates.
Contact Federal Trade Commission And Local Police Department
You need to file a report to the local police department and make a paper trail that might be useful in the future if your situation leads to a lawsuit. Go to the police with any proof you have on identity theft (bills, IRS notices, etc). Police may not be successful in finding the perpetrator of the identity theft, but your goal is to have a police report filed. Remember to ask for a copy of the report filed.
Also, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a report about your situation. You can do that online if you visit www.identitytheft.gov. Include as many details as possible. Based on this information your Identity Theft Report will be created and a recovery plan developed. This Identity Theft Report guarantees you certain rights and proves to businesses you are a victim of identity theft.
Write Dispute Letters To All Three Credit Report Agencies
When your identity has been stolen, you have the right by the Fair Credit Report Act to remove fraudulent information from your credit reports. To do so you have to write dispute letters to all three credit report agencies. Explain which information in your credit report came from identity theft and ask them to block that information. If you have your FTC Identity Theft Report, credit bureaus are required to honor your request to block information. Once fraudulent information is blocked credit bureaus must not include it in your credit report anymore. Also, companies cannot try to collect the debt.
In order to resolve problems caused to you by identity theft, you can ask credit report agencies to put a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert requires potential creditors to verify your identity when issuing new credit in your name. This will prevent anyone with your personal information to use them. A fraud alert lasts for one year. You can also ask for an extended fraud alert to be put on your credit report which lasts for seven years.
Credit Freeze is another measure that can help further misuse of your personal information. It prevents any prospective creditor from accessing your credit report without your consent. It lasts until you remove it. It is free of charge to place it and to remove it.
Do You Need An Identity Theft Lawyer
It can be tricky to deal with a situation of identity theft. There are so many things to do in order to clear up the situation. Often stolen identity results in the plunge of your credit score. Although it is not your fault, it is your credit score and you have to deal with the situation. All the measures that have to be taken you can take yourself. But consider having the assistance of an identity theft lawyer. Here is why.
Sometimes not everything goes smoothly with credit report agencies. Disputing fraudulent information may result differently than you would expect. You may be denied getting your Identity Theft Report due to a lack of proof provided in your dispute letters. It could happen to you just because you are inexperienced in correspondence with three major credit bureaus and you don’t understand clearly which steps you need to take in which order. That’s why it is important to have an experienced identity theft lawyer working on your cause. Someone who has no doubts about what has to be done and how.
When you are a victim of identity theft there is a lot at stake. At least for you. You can’t afford to fail when disputing fraudulent information. Credit report agencies work at a slow but steady pace, so the process of blocking fraudulent information can take some time. An identity theft lawyer in St Louis from Cook Law LLC can help you to avoid mistakes in this process and make your credit report free of fraudulent information in the shortest possible time.
At Cook Law LLC we can offer you all the services an identity theft lawyer in St Louis could provide and give you peace of mind in a situation that can be nerve-racking for you. Creditors and businesses that are trying to collect what they believe you owe them can be impatient and file a lawsuit against you. If the situation when your identity is stolen escalates this way, you should definitely have an identity theft lawyer hired to help you clear your good name. Identity theft lawyer St Louis from Cook Law LLC will help you make all the necessary steps to clear up the situation. It is important to take the right steps, and include valid proof, because if credit bureau agencies continue reporting fraudulent information after your dispute, it may be enough to file a lawsuit against credit report agencies for the damages you had suffered because of the fraudulent information being reported on your credit reports.