Many people’s first reaction when they become a victim of identity theft is shock and confusion, especially wondering how someone could possibly have gained such debilitating access to their personal information.
It is also easy to underestimate the value personal information has in the modern world. While a single address or phone number is not worth all that much, the value stems from volume and connected data. A phone number alone will not lead to identity fraud, but combine that with your name, date of birth, address, and social security number. It suddenly becomes a far more attractive proposition.
So, what do you do if you have had your identity stolen? It is vital to remember that no matter the reasons behind it, identity theft is a crime. In more complex cases, there is every reason to turn to the experts, much as you would in any other example of criminal activity.
Call Bell Law, LLC Now if You’ve Been a Victim of Identity Theft
When you need the law on your side, you need an experienced attorney that is dedicated to working with you to understand the case, take action and help you to ensure you never fall victim again. At Bell Law, LLC, that is precisely what our identity theft lawyers strive to do.
Identity fraud cases come in all shapes and sizes, and we have worked on almost every type of case imaginable. When the law is broken, and our clients have suffered as a result, we ensure that they understand their legal rights and receive the guidance and support they need to put things right.
We also take great pride in providing the personal touch. Some lawyers provide a faceless service where every case follows the same blueprint. At Bell Law, we prefer to work closely with our clients so that we can fully understand the nuances of every case and adapt the work that we do to ensure a positive, efficient outcome. We are also fully aware that while most people consider stolen money and fraudulent debt as the most negative outcomes of identity theft, we never underestimate the emotional distress such cases can cause. Where relevant, we will also build this into the legal process.
If you are concerned that you may have become a victim of identity theft, it is important to act fast. We do not want prospective clients to worry about having suspicions without proof, questions they need answering or concerns about legal costs. That is why every new relationship begins with a completely free, no-obligation consultation.
Call the Bell Law, LLC offices in Kansas City today at 816-281-0649.
How Our Attorneys Help Identity Theft Victims to Recover
Can lawyers help with identity theft? Absolutely! Identity theft is a crime, and as such, victims are always permitted to take legal action to recover financial losses and put things right. It goes without saying that, for that legal action to be as effective as possible, it pays to consult the experts. That’s where the specialist identity theft attorneys from Bell Law, LLC can help.
Any case involving a stolen identity can be incredibly disconcerting, even when relatively minor. While there will be differences between cases where an identity thief opens a single credit card account in someone else’s name and broader cases where they impersonate someone else on a regular basis, both are criminal acts. All victims deserve guidance and support toward a positive conclusion.
A specialist identity theft attorney can assist not only with the legal aspect of recovery but will also use their skills and experience to ensure that everything is in place for clients to return to business as usual with faith that their identifying information is in safe hands.
As noted, every case is different. Nevertheless, whether a case can be resolved in a week or your lawyer determines that it is appropriate to file suit, there are some constants between many different cases.
An Identity Theft Attorney Will Report to the Relevant Authorities
While it makes sense that identity theft victims will first think about themselves and the impact the crime has on their lifestyle, it is vital to report identity theft cases to the appropriate authorities.
In the first instance, this often means reporting the case to the Federal Trade Commission. They have a significant interest in these cases, given their responsibility to enforce federal law. They will also provide those with a valid identity theft case with a personal recovery plan.
These plans provide government-backed guidance for those that have been the victim of stolen information, enabling them to immediately take the first steps to put their affairs back in order.
The FTC will often also provide each victim of identity theft with an identity theft report.
The identity theft report is a vital tool for victims and attorneys alike, as they serve as official verification that an individual’s identity has indeed been compromised. This document can then be provided to law enforcement, existing and potential creditors, and the three major credit bureaus to verify that the individual concerned was the victim of identity thieves and is taking steps to rectify the damage done.
The FTC will require certain information before they can act on reports, and your attorney’s experience can prove invaluable in communicating with the organization efficiently and effectively.
While identity theft victims will typically contact the FTC first, your lawyer will remind you that a major crime has occurred, regardless of the scale. As such, it is vital to file a police report. As well as the FTC’s identity theft report, individuals should be prepared to submit photographic identification and any additional proof they have, which an identity theft attorney can help to put into a cohesive order.
Police are compelled to investigate identity fraud cases just like any other crime. This is often the best opportunity to identify the culprits if you have been unable to do so already. Doing so will naturally make the legal process more straightforward as the case progresses.
Lawyers Can Clean up Credit Reports on Behalf of an Identity Theft Victim
While there is more to identity theft than crimes involving credit reports, they are the most common, and nothing beats an experienced attorney when it comes to putting things right. The crime itself is so prevalent due to the potential for financial gain. Once someone gathers enough of someone’s personal information, the next step typically involves attempting to obtain credit using that fraudulent information.
All sorts of factors may influence the amount of damage to your credit report. You may be fortunate and spot suspicious signs of fraudulent charges when someone has only managed to open one or two new credit accounts. However, if you are not in the habit of checking your credit report, mortgage statement, bank accounts, and credit card statements regularly, the identity thief may have caused far more damage.
No matter the extent of this damage, your attorney can help you to repair it, backed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This is a federal law, once again enforced by the FTC, and it compels every credit reporting agency to address credit report errors brought to their attention. With a completed identity theft report, you can verify that financial accounts impacting your credit history that were opened by the identity thief are not yours. This immediately renders that information inaccurate in the eyes of credit reporting agencies.
Multiple attempts to obtain credit can make it more difficult to do so in the future, and late payments can make it next to impossible to open a bank account, let alone a new credit card account. Removing inaccurate information is always a priority, but not always straightforward. As noted, the law is on your side, and a skilled attorney can ensure that the process is as quick and painless as possible.
Your Lawyer Can Contact Financial Institutions on Your Behalf
While you will want to contact credit reporting agencies as a matter of urgency to repair the damage that has already been done, your attorney can also support you in ensuring that identity thieves cannot continue to impact your credit report with new accounts.
At the very least, your lawyer will often recommend an immediate credit freeze. This places an immediate block on credit reports and involves contacting each of the major credit bureaus individually. It limits access to your credit history and broader financial information and prevents the addition of new credit card accounts, loans, and other agreements.
Depending on the nature of the identity theft, it may be worth contacting each financial institution individually while the credit report repair process is carried out. For example, if an identity thief has set up a bank account in your name, they might have access to an account number, bank statements, and debit cards bearing your details, but outside your control.
Direct contact can also relieve some of the pressure on victims if an institution has instructed a debt collector to pursue the individual they believe owes them money.
Your attorney will often have worked with you to identify fraudulent accounts by this point, and it is worth taking the time to make phone calls to a relevant credit card company, debt collectors, phone companies, and other utility providers to freeze or close accounts, even with an overall credit freeze in place.
Depending on whether you have identified the source of the initial data breach, your lawyer may advise updating other information. This might mean closing unused accounts, changing online passwords, and, in the most severe cases, changing your social security number.
An experienced attorney can be extremely useful if you wish to make such a change. The Social Security Administration (SSA) states that your social security number is designed to stay with you throughout your life and never change outside limited circumstances. Identity theft qualifies as an exceptional circumstance, and your attorney will advise on whether this step is necessary as part of a full recovery.
An Attorney Works With Clients to Prevent Future Breaches
It makes perfect sense to take steps to prevent identity theft, but it is often something that is not considered fully until it has happened. Likewise, falling victim to identity theft in no way guarantees that someone will not be targeted again in the future. Personal information typically remains just as valuable to those seeking to acquire it as it was previously. Indeed, once your identity theft attorney has taken steps to rectify the situation, your identity might include even more valuable information than before if your credit score goes up!
Many victims of identity theft choose to maintain their credit freeze until such a time as they wish to apply for credit themselves. Credit reporting agencies must maintain the freeze indefinitely and until instructed otherwise. There are other options available, too, such as extended fraud alerts.
These arrangements go above and beyond a typical fraud alert, and they are only available to those that have suffered identity theft. Reporting agencies are obliged to put an extended fraud alert in place for a period of seven years when provided with an identity theft report from the FTC.
Freezing your credit reports will not typically impact your ability to manage existing accounts. As well as using them for their intended purpose on a day-to-day basis, you can also carry out standard tasks such as updating your contact details with a change of address form or moving money between accounts.
By the end of the process, your attorney will have executed a comprehensive plan to ensure that you are at far lesser risk of suffering another case of identity theft.
Other Identity Theft Cases
While we have discussed credit identity theft extensively throughout, it is vital to remember that there is more to this type of crime than fraudulent charges and the need for a fraud alert. Many cases of impersonating another individual can be just as serious. For example, using someone else’s personal information to acquire prescription drugs is considered medical identity theft. In contrast, someone may maliciously carry out taxpayer identity theft for the purpose of fraudulently intercepting another person’s tax refund.
These are also crimes worthy of a police report, and they certainly justify the involvement of an experienced attorney. If you have suffered loss or distress through the malicious use of your personal information, the Bell Law team is here to help you put things right.
Speak to an Identity Theft Attorney Today
The best thing anyone can do when they discover that they have been a victim of identity fraud is to act fast, and that’s why the Bell Law, LLC team is available when you need us for a free initial consultation.
Whether you have early questions and concerns or you are ready to file a police report, we’ll ensure you have access to the support and guidance you need to ensure the best possible outcome.
Call us today at 816-281-0649.