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Identity Theft Fraud

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Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes. No matter how careful you are, highly skilled thieves utilize a number of identity theft scams in attempts to gain access to your private information. If you have been a victim of identity theft, experienced identity theft attorneys can help you by filing a police report and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint, placing a fraud alert on your credit file and closing tampered or fraudulent accounts.

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Identity Theft

Consumer Identity TheftConsumers are becoming increasingly concerned about identity theft, particularly with the proliferation of e-commerce and banking online. Identity theft and fraud can be a tremendous burden on the victim, both financially and psychologically. Resolving all of these issues can take a tremendous amount of time, effort and expense on the part of the victim. Highly skilled identity thieves utilize a number of techniques in attempts to gain access to your private information. In some cases they get information from institutions or businesses by stealing records, bribing employees who have access to these records, hacking computerized records, or simply conning information from employees.

Identity theft can be as simple as stealing your mail or going your private home and/or commercial business trash. Sometimes ID thieves steal your wallet or purse. They will also fraudulently pose as potential landlords, prospective or current employers, or creditors to try to obtain your personal data from legitimate sources. Other fraudulent practices include:

Skimming

The practice of "skimming" is becoming more common. This is when a device is placed on a public ATM machine that reads the information on the magnetic strip of the bank or credit card slid through the device.

Phishing

Identity Theft PhishingPhishing occurs when scammers trick consumers into giving up personal information, typically by sending out what look like official communications from banks, credit unions, or credit card companies asking you to confirm your private information including PIN numbers and other critical identifiers. Some go so far as to file a "change of address" form to divert your mail to a drop or Post Office Box address.

The IRS, for example, is warning of widespread phishing emails as tax filing deadlines near. Recently, three lawsuits were filed in Virginia, targeting ID thieves who sent official-looking emails to AOL members in an attempt to trick and lure them to websites that resembled official AOL or CompuServe websites.

You can prevent much Online Identity Theft by a few simple procedures:
    Constantly updating your web browser and operating system Ignoring unsolicited emails Usingstrong passwords to avoid ID hackers Securing your system with anti-virus/anti-spyware Safely disposing old computers
Credit card fraud and Check Kiting

These are still the two most common forms (71 percent) of ID theft—when someone uses an existing credit or debit card account to steal money. According to the FTC, about 60 percent of ID theft victims paid nothing out-of-pocket in 2005 because your liability is legally limited and card issuers or banks pay the direct losses, not you.

Credit Card Company Identity Theft

Credit Card Company Identity TheftAccording to a lawsuit filed several years ago by Eric Drew, a victim of identity theft, credit card companies such as Bank of America, Citibank and Chase are knowingly fostering rampant fraud and forcing their customers to deal with the results of their irresponsible credit card issuing practices. Citibank, Chase, and Bank of America issued credit in Drew's name to a hospital worker where Eric was fighting against leukemia. The companies failed to verify the applications. Instead, they opened multiple accounts and ignored Eric when he called. Drew filed negligence lawsuits against TransUnion, Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Equifax and Experian. He recently settled with Transunion and the other suits are ongoing.

Identity Theft Law

Identity Theft LawMost state laws require that Personal Identity Information (PII) is appropriately protected and that if the data is acquired by an unauthorized person through a security breach, affected individuals must be notified. For instance, under California state law, "personal identity information" means first name or initial and last name in combination with:
  • Full Social Security number;
  • Driver's license number or California Identification Card number;
  • Financial account, credit card, or debit card numbers; and/or
  • Medical or health insurance information
Identity thieves can divert your credit cards to a new address and proceed to charge thousands of dollars in your name. The thief can establish phone or internet service in your name. They may develop counterfeit checks and run up your debt through purchases. They may even file bankruptcy in your name in order to avoid paying the debts they incurred in your name.

Who Is Responsible when my Identity is Stolen?

Clearly, if an institution or business entity fails to protect your information or is somehow party to the breach that revealed information they had filed on you, there is a definite liability question whether it be an institution, an employer, a credit bureau or the government. Even if an employee or contractor committed an illegal act and revealed your data, there may still be a liability issue for the employer of that person or their services.

Identity Theft Institutional ResponsibilityIn a number of lawsuits, private institutions that hold and distribute this data have been found liable for the inappropriate or illegal release of private information and data, and the havoc it may wreak on the identity theft victim and their family.

On the other hand, if someone stole the information from your trash or you somehow failed to protect your critical personal data like credit card or bank account information, family history or you gave a password away to an acquaintance who then defrauded you, the liability of the institutions or businesses involved may be greatly lessened. You are expected to protect your personal information as well.

Am I Qualified to Complain?

If you have been the victim of identity theft, which you believe occurred due to the negligence, error or willful act of an institution, business, or employer who maintains such critical records -or through the actions of an employee/contractor for the institution, business or employer, first call your bank and/or credit card company, etc. and then talk to a qualified attorney; Identity theft almost always creates legal problems.

As well, a lawyer can point you in the right direction--some states have laws and agencies to help identity theft victims and you can also file a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For identity theft victim assistance you can visit the Identity Theft Resource Center.

Identity Theft Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered from Identity Theft, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a possible lawsuit. Please click the link below to submit your complaint and we will have a lawyer review your Identity Theft complaint.

Last updated on Jul-26-10

IDENTITY THEFT LEGAL ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS

SeaWorld Alleged to Be Fishing for Zip Code Info
SeaWorld Alleged to Be Fishing for Zip Code Info San Diego, CA:Your zip code is private information and savvy marketers in the digital age can use that information to generate a detailed profile of your shopping habits, the kind of car you drive, provide information about how much you earn and a lot more [READ MORE]

Victims Targeted in Identity Theft
Victims Targeted in Identity Theft Atlanta, GA: If you thought identity theft was just for small-time criminals looking to make a little money, you might want to think again. Identity theft fraud can make thieves millions of dollars, making identity theft scams worth their while. Some people involved in ID theft can rack up millions of dollars in fraudulent transactions, not only benefiting themselves but also financially harming any victim of identity theft [READ MORE]

Suspect of Identity Theft in Washington Could Have More Than 1,000 Victims
Suspect of Identity Theft in Washington Could Have More Than 1,000 Victims Olympia, WA: An Olympia, Washington man who was recently arrested may have planned the identity theft of 1,000 people, according to Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza [READ MORE]



READER COMMENTS

Posted by
California
on
Emotional psychological - all accounts were tapped into. Over and over. After closing accounts. I've filed ftc. Police report. chase and navy federal credit union has failed to protect me and make things right in a timely fashion. I'm Still fighting. And have spent months. And thousands have been stolen. Help!!!

Posted by
Anonymous
on
I have the same first, middle and last name and relative age as someone who died in the early 1990's. Before she passed away, she committed a series of crimes. Oh, and by the way, I'm the only person in existence today with that same first, middle and last name. Therefore, when people do a Google search on my name, her criminal records show up and because I'm the only person currently in existence with that same first, middle and last name, people, co-workers, and potential employers assume that her criminal records are mine. How would you handle this?

Posted by
Nevada
on
I used my debit card at several places, but the last one was Del Taco on Nov 28. The drive-thru cashier took an unusually long time with my card and after I received my food, I still had to wait for my card back. The next 2 days I did not use my card, but $407.27 was spent in a nearby town. I canceled the card and incurred $20 in charges ($5 for a new card, $15 for expedited service). This was every cent I had on the card. The debit card company has opened an investigation and I should get the money back eventually, but this has caused a severe hardship on me as I am unemployed.

Posted by
New Jersey
on
Two different department stores in London charged my VISA debit card, one for $78.76 and the orther for $167.94. I have emailed both companies and they refuse to give me any information.

I contacted my bank, had my card cancelled, and filed a RegE form with them. Both companies have stated on their websites that they require a signed receipt for delivery of any items. I have NEVER been to the UK and have never purchased anything online from either of these companies.

Posted by
Colorado
on
A woman created a fake Ohio ID with my information (I live in Colorado, never been to Ohio), took out a Bank One and US Bank account in my name and overcharged both. She also took out a loan with Loan Mart, which is how I found out, when a credit agency called me. Loan Mart did get her photo, fingerprint, references, "employer" and a possible home address. I would like to sue this woman, Loan Mart, the worker at Loan Mart who neglected to thouroughly do her job and allowed this woman to take out a loan, and Bank One and US Bank for not checking references thoroughly. Right now I am simply trying to see if there is a lawyer out there who would take my case that would not get paid until I won the case as I don't have any money to spare.

Posted by
New Jersey
on
I have been battling ID theft issues for five years now. Did not qualify for a mortgage years ago that would have made me millions. Information on the ID theft was acquired from the US Secret Service. Credit was denied to me, hours and hours of clearing up problems, and higher rates on a mortgage were other damages.

Posted by
New Mexico
on
My wifes credit score has been lowered significantly since a "deroggatory" appeared on her credit record. She has suffered physically with stomach ulcers, and possible pulmonary problems since all this came to light. We have checked our credit reports periodically and this derogatory only showed up in July 2007.

Posted by
Montana
on
Alta Resources who processes Disney Movie club payments had an employee who stole my information (credit card) and sold it to an undercover agent. They have assured me that it was not sold to any others but I do not trust them. I believe this is a breach of contract.

Posted by
Ohio
on
The new car salesman used my credit card to make several purchases on the internet. He had access to all of my personal infomation which allowed him to make purchases on an account that had no funds available. He was able to answer personal security questions in order to make the transaction valid. He was fired by the Toyota dealer after admitting to the crime. I am not sure if he has used my infomation (or my husbands) information to committ any additional identify thefts on my behalf.

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