Identity theft is a consumer’s worst nightmare. It can cause you to lose all your savings and your access to credit in just a matter of hours, even if you have spent decades paying your bills on time and building your creditworthiness. Sometimes identity thieves strike even if you do everything you can to protect against yourself. Perhaps you always use secure passwords, do not post your identifying information publicly online, and do not transmit sensitive information online unless you are sure that the site is secure and there is no other way to complete the transaction (for example, paying for a content subscription or signing up for direct deposit for your job), but identity thieves can steal your identity by breaching the devices and accounts of parties other than the identity theft victims themselves.
For example, your identifying information could get stolen from your doctor’s office or a company with which you make payments on AutoPay. If you are being charged with financial crimes related to stolen financial information or Social Security numbers, contact an Arizonacriminal lawyer.
Notify the Companies Where the Fraudulent Transactions Took Place
In many cases, the first indication that you have been a target ofidentity theft is that your credit card statement or bank statement includes transactions that you did not authorize. Of course, you should notify your bank or credit card of the unauthorized activity, but you should also notify the vendors where the identity thieves made the purchases. This way, you can get the money refunded more quickly. Your credit card company or bank might also freeze or close your account to stop future fraudulent purchases.
File Reports With the Police and the FTC
Credit card companies receive calls disputing charges all the time; they are more likely to take you seriously about identity theft, instead of thinking that you are just experiencing buyer’s remorse and trying to talk your way out of making extravagant purchases if there is a police report to back up your claims. When you notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local police department about the identity theft, they can begin investigations that can help you get your money back or get court-ordered damages or restitution to compensate you for the losses resulting from the identity theft.
Freeze Your Credit
Freezing your credit is when you instruct the three credit reporting agencies not to release your credit reports to anyone until you remove the freeze. It is a good idea to do this not only when you notice fraudulent charges that could indicate identity theft, but you should also freeze the credit reports of Social Security numbers associated with children, since, in these cases, the identity theft often goes on for many years before anyone notices. Imagine turning 18 and finding out that accounts connected to your Social Security number have already incurred tens of thousands of dollars of debt.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports
You might prefer not to freeze your credit if you still need to release your credit reports because you are applying for loans, jobs, or housing. Another option is to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Simply notify one of the three credit reporting agencies that you suspect fraud, and all three credit reporting agencies will use more scrutiny in investigating loan applications and other activity on your credit report. It is free to place a fraud alert, and the alert remains active for a year.
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
The best solution to identity theft is to stop identity theft before it happens. You can protect yourself from identity theft by not disclosing your Social Security number to anyone unless it is absolutely necessary, changing your online passwords frequently, and using two-factor authentication on accounts that offer this service. You should also look at your bank account statements, credit card statements, and medical bills very carefully and speak up at the first sign of suspicious activity. Depending on the circumstances of the identity theft, you may also need the help of a criminal defense lawyer or a consumer law attorney.
Contact Singular Law Group About Identity Theft
Everyone accused of a crime in the United States has the right to representation by a defense attorney. A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of identity theft or if your stolen identity has been connected to financial crimes.Contact Singular Law Group PLLC in Tempe, Arizona, to set up a consultation.