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The attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have experience navigating identity theft cases and work tirelessly to hold identity thieves and other parties accountable for their actions. Our attorneys have a history of success helping consumers restore their good names, reputation, and credit after their identities were stolen.
If you have had your identity stolen, contact an identity theft attorney as soon as possible. Our attorneys may be able to help to recover financial losses and remedy other injuries you have suffered as a result. To learn more about how our attorneys may be able to help you, please fill out our no cost case review form today.
How Can an Identity Theft Attorney Help Me?
Recovering stolen money and correcting any additional damage caused by identity theft, such as a damaged credit score or a tarnished reputation, can be a difficult task to undertake on your own. As identity theft becomes more common, determining the identity of the thief has become a challenge for police, often leaving victims without legal recourse against the thieves themselves. It is important to contact an attorney to discuss options that may be available to you if the police cannot be of assistance.
At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys have access to experts at the top of their respective fields, including private investigators and forensic accountants, who may be able to assist in determining, through their own private investigation, when your identity was stolen and by whom. Additionally, our attorneys can review the details of your case, which will include both information collected by our experts and your own accounts, to determine whether a third party can be held liable for your injury. If your case is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for your financial losses, restore your reputation, and reestablish your credit score.
What is Identity Theft?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act defines identity theft as “a fraud committed or attempted using the identifying information of another person without authority.” Typically, identity theft is separated into six categories, which are comprised of the following:
New Account Fraud: This occurs when an individual takes advantage of an individual with good credit standing by using their personal information to create new accounts. These can include credit card accounts, bank accounts, utility accounts, and cell phone accounts.
Account Takeover Fraud: In these cases, an individual uses another person’s existing personal and financial information for their own gain. This can include the use of existing credit cards or withdrawals from established bank accounts.
Criminal Identity Theft: In some instances, an individual committing a criminal act will identify themselves as another person, typically with the use of fraudulent identification.
Medical Identity Theft: By using another person’s name and insurance information, an identity thief can fraudulently receive medical care and services, including prescription drugs and other medical instrumentations. This can be one of the most dangerous types of identity theft, as the notes made on the victim’s medical charts, which really concern the thief, could lead to improper and potentially fatal medical decisions in the future.
Business of Commercial Identity Theft: This occurs when an individual, usually a current or ex-employee, uses a business’s name to obtain credit.
Identity Cloning: 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.
What Should I do if My Identity Has Been Stolen?
First, contact an experienced identity theft attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options. Steps that should be taken immediately after you notice your identity has been stolen, online or otherwise, include:
Step One: Report the identity theft to the fraud department of the three major credit bureaus.
- Ask the credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert” on your credit report.
- Request copies of your credit reports to examine them for fraudulent charges or new, unauthorized accounts opened under your name.
- Ask the creditors to contact you before they open new accounts or change current ones.
Contact information for the three major credit bureaus:
Equifax P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 To order your report: 1-800-685-111 To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285 TDD: 1-800-255-0056 www.equifax.com
TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92634-6790 To order your report: 1-800-888-4213 To report fraud: 1-800-680-7289 TDD: 1-877-553-7803 www.transunion.com
Experian P.O. Box 9532 Allen, TX 75013 To order your report: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) To report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) TDD: 1-888-972-0322 www.experian.com
Step Two: Contact the fraud department of each of your creditors.
- Contact the fraud department for each of your credit accounts, including credit card providers, cable, cell phone, and other utility providers.
- Report the identity theft to each creditor, even if that account has not been affected. Close each account that has been compromised. Ask the credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert” on every open account.
- Follow up in writing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) supplies an Identity Theft Affidavit, which can be used to report new, unauthorized accounts opened with your stolen information. Check with the company to determine if they will accept the affidavit.
- Keep a written record of every conversation you have with the fraud departments. Follow up your phone call with a written confirmation, including documents that serve as proof to your claim.
Step Three: Contact your bank or financial institution.
If your checks have been stolen, or if you suspect they have been used, call your bank or credit union and place stop payments on the compromised or missing checks.
- Call the major check verification companies and ask that they tell retailers who use their databases not to accept your checks because they may be stolen. Contact information for major check verification companies are as follows:
- TeleCheck: 1-800-710-9898 or 1-800-927-0188
- Cetergy, Inc.: 1-800-437-5120
- International Check Services: 1-800-631-9656
Dial 1-800-262-7771 to find out if stolen checks have been passed in your name.
- If you believe your accounts have been compromised, cancel the accounts and obtain new numbers.
- Change direct deposits that are linked to your compromised accounts.
If your credit card information has been stolen, it is important to contact your credit card company immediately. The company should be able to:
- Determine whether fraud occurred
- Remove unauthorized charges
- Close your account to prevent additional fraudulent charges
- Issue a new account number and card
It is also important to check your credit report to look for any other suspicious activity.
Step Four: Report the identity theft to law enforcement officials.
- File a report with the law enforcement agency holding jurisdiction over the area where the identity theft took place and be sure to get a case number for the file.
- When filing the report, provide relevant documentation including copies of debt collection letters, credit reports and the Identity Theft Affidavit.
- Ask for a copy of the police report. Your creditor may ask to see a copy of the report to remove the fraudulent debts.
Generally, identity theft cases are difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt because of a lack of sufficient physical evidence, which is commonly due to standard business policies. Businesses may be unable to obtain necessary evidence, such as surveillance or receipts, and may lack physical contact with your identity thief. Contacting an experienced identity theft attorney is an important step in complementing the government’s investigation. Our attorneys have access to experts and resources the government and police may not employ, which may dramatically increase your chances of recovering compensation.
Who Can I Sue for Identity Theft?
Ideally, you would like to bring a lawsuit against the individual who stole your identity; however, these thieves are usually difficult to find. In cases where the actual thief cannot be identified or located, you may be able to file suit against another party. Typically, these parties are those who had access to your social security number, credit card number and other personal information, and may include the following:
- Other financial institutions;
- Government entities; and
The type of liability will vary between parties, depending on the particular facts regarding the relationship between the identity theft and the defending party.
What Can I Sue For?
Given the number of ways an identity can be stolen, identity theft encompasses several theories of liability. The type of claim you file will hinge on the type of identity theft you have been the victim of, as well as the facts particular to your case. Potential causes of action may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Invasion of privacy;
- Publication of private facts;
- Breach of fiduciary duty;
- Infliction of emotional distress; and
- Breach of contract.
When you initially provide your attorney with information about your stolen identity, it is important to provide as many details as possible. The smallest fact can make a theory of liability actionable; therefore, it is important for your attorney to be equipped with all information that is relevant to your case, as this can help in determining the best route for recovery.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered?
Depending on the cause of action, extent of the injury, and intended defendant, there may be several forms of compensation available for the victim. These include:
- Compensatory damages for financial losses incurred as a result of the theft.
- Emotional damages may be available if the victim suffered emotional distress, such as anxiety or depression, from the theft.
- Punitive damages may be applicable if the victim’s personal information was intentionally or recklessly exposed.
- Injunctive relief releasing the victim from debts owed that they did not accrue.
If you have had your identity stolen, you may have legal recourse against a number of parties. To learn more about your legal options and how our identity theft attorneys may be able to help you, please complete our case evaluation form, at no cost or obligation to you.