Westchester Identity Crimes Lawyers
Identity theft is a crime that can cause a huge amount of damage, and the scars can linger for years. This is especially true when the crime results in harm to your reputation or a negative history of credit. If you discovery that you’re a victim of identity theft, you need to take action immediately to protect yourself.
Identity theft attorneys are a resource if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Their job is to protect the rights of an identity theft victim. They must also understand the remedies and rights available to you through state and federal laws. Different states have different statutes regarding their individual identity theft laws.
The Definition of Identity Theft
In casual conversation, people often use the terms “identity theft” and “identity fraud” interchangeably. There is a difference between them, however. Identity fraud is a broad category that involves any crimes committed through the use of false identification. Identity theft, meanwhile, is a very specific type of identity fraud in which a person uses another individual’s personal information.
Under federal law, identity theft has a strict definition. It is the knowing possession, transfer, or use of another person’s identification without the lawful authority to use that identification. To count as identity theft, the identification use must also connect with an activity that either violates federal law or counts as a felony in the state in which it is committed.
A number of different methods might be used to find a person’s information. Commonly, these methods include:
- The theft of a purse or wallet
- Sifting through Dumpsters to find records and discarded mail
- Stealing your mail or redirecting your mail to a new address
- Telephone scams that obtain personal information
- Data breaches of a financial institution or major retailer
- Eavesdropping on personal conversations or looking over your shoulder while you surf the internet in a public place
- Internet scams that seek your personal information
- Hacking into your records when you fail to use a secure network
The FBI has a great deal of information regarding the identity fraud and identity theft schemes that are currently being used.
How Identity Theft Attorneys Help
It can be stressful and overwhelming to recover your identity and clear your record from false charges. You might be required to:
- File a police report
- File a report with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
- Contact banks and financial institutions to close your accounts or initiate fraud alerts
- Contact bureaus of credit to remove false information from your credit report
- Contact creditors or debt collection agencies to let them know about the theft
Identity theft attorneys are experienced with communicating with these types of entities. They also understand the legal obligations of these entities to cooperate. If you have an attorney during your identity theft or deal, some of these entities will be legally prohibited from engaging in direct contact with you. Most importantly, debt collection agencies won’t be able to call you.
An identity theft attorney will explain the remedies and rights that you’re entitled to under your state and federal laws. Federal law states that identity theft victims have the right to restitution for both the harm incurred and the time that they spend trying to fix this harm. Multiple state laws outline additional remedies to help victims, like the capability to file a lawsuit against the thieves to recover damages.
In Florida, identity theft victims can recover triple the amount of damages when they file a suit against the perpetrators. Your identity theft attorney will let you know about any similar laws that exist in your state. They will also explain whether there are any statutes of limitations you should know about. You should contact an attorney as soon as you discover your identity has been stolen.