The Dangers of Identity Theft
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), recent increases in criminal identity theft and identity fraud have resulted in more identities stolen than ever before. The financial consequences of identity theft can be devastating, but they aren’t the only dangers to worry about.
When an identity thief secures your personally identifiable information, it could result in significant harm to your bank and investment accounts and so much more. That includes damage to your career, reputation, credit reports, and even criminal charges.
This article contains valuable tips, information, and steps to prevent, identify, and handle personal data breaches. Continue reading to learn:
- How Identity Thieves Can Change Your Life For The Worse
- How to Limit or Prevent Identity Theft
- Steps to Protect Your Sensitive Information From Identity Thieves
- What To Do If You’re An Victim of Identity Theft
- When Victims Should File Bankruptcy
If identity thieves have ruined your scores with the three credit bureaus and you’re considering bankruptcy, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Florida bankruptcy attorney you can trust.
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How An Identity Thief Can Change Your Life For The Worse
It doesn’t matter if identity theft occurs due to a data breach shared on the dark web, easy-to-guess security questions, leaked medical records, or hacked social media accounts. It can take weeks, months, or years to recover after you report identity theft.
In the sections below, learn about the havoc stolen identity can cause in your life.
A stolen identity can result in many hardships. Most notably to your finances. Identity theft can result in the following devastation to your financial accounts, but not limited to:
- Lost life savings
- A maxed-out credit card balance
- Massive debt
- Tarnished credit score
- IRS audits resulting in a lost tax refund (potentially for years)
Since credit card fraud is the most common type of identity theft, it’s in your best interest to protect your financial information, set up a fraud alert on your credit reports, lock your credit information, and enact as many steps as possible to secure your personal data.
Complicated Processes to Recover Your Identity & Accounts
Suppose an identity thief steals your social security number, opens new accounts with a financial institution, uses your bank account details, etc. In that case, your information may be on the dark web forever.
In many cases, you may have to close all of your old accounts and start fresh. However, that’s not always easy if you have negative information on your credit report. Further, it can be complicated to report financial fraud, prove it, and recover your accounts.
The Work Required to Repair Scores With The Three Major Credit Bureaus
Individuals who steal personally identifiable information for their own gain don’t care about the harm they cause to credit scores and how it will affect a victim’s standing with the major credit reporting agencies.
While fixing issues stemming from credit card fraud is typically easier than those resulting from account takeovers, both can be challenging to overcome. Generally, it can take anywhere from weeks, to months, to years to fully recover.
It’s recommended that you sign up for an identity theft protection service, check your credit reports regularly, pay attention to the small details on your financial statements, and take swift action as soon as you think someone is trying to commit fraud.
Emotional and Physical Stress
The financial impact of identity theft (i.e., credit card fraud, account takeovers, medical identity theft, etc.) is clear. However, a less understated consequence of stolen identity is the emotional and physical harm it causes to victims. It can lead to stress, anxiety, fear, and even depression. Dealing with a tarnished reputation, decreased credit score, and the insecurities resulting from identity theft can be overwhelming.
Greater Potential For Mortgage & Deed Fraud
When someone commits criminal identity theft, they could be after more than just your bank account numbers. They may attempt to steal your home. Home title fraud happens when an individual steals a home by forging a deed, then takes ownership (usually under a fake identity) without the victim’s knowledge or permission. Unfortunately, fixing deed fraud can cost thousands of dollars, a lot of time, and years of reputation repair with credit reporting agencies.
Higher Likelihood of Being a Victim of Identity Theft Again
The dangers of identity theft don’t decrease after you’ve been a victim. People with bank accounts, social security numbers, or other essential identifying information stolen are at greater risk of it happening again in the future.
With that in mind, it’s in your best interest to take every step possible to prevent identity theft before it happens, and if it does, take drastic actions to protect your personal data in the future. Learn more in the sections below.
How Can I Limit or Prevent Identity Theft?
Random phone calls, countless spam messages, mail from a new credit card company (that you had no idea about), and similar are clear warning signs that something is wrong. However, it may already be too late when you notice these things. Generally, the best defense against identity theft is a great offense.
While there is no way to 100% guarantee identity theft protection from data breaches, there are ways to make it very difficult for criminals to hijack your or your child’s credit.
Generally, the best ways to prevent identity theft include but are not limited to the following:
- Make strong passwords for all of your accounts (store them in a secure location, like a password manager)
- Don’t reuse passwords
- Answer security questions unconventionally
- Limit how many companies you give your personal data
- Place a hold on your mail when you leave town to prevent mail theft
- Be careful about the emails and links you click while online (even if they claim they’re from government entities or financial institutions)
- Only use websites with a secure connection
- Use proven security software on your devices
- Close outdated financial accounts and other accounts that you no longer use
- Regularly monitor your credit score, bank statements, and credit card statements
It can be a long and complicated recovery process if you’ve been the victim of identity theft. However, in time, it’s possible to make a full recovery. Learn what to do if you’re the victim of identity theft below.
What Should I Do If I’m The Victim of Identity Theft?
Recent data suggests that there were more than 1.4 million people who reported identity theft in a one-year period (2021). With that in mind, if your sensitive information has been stolen, it’s recommended that you take the following steps, but not limited to:
- Notify local law enforcement officials
- Report identity theft to the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion)
- File a claim with your identity theft insurance (if applicable)
- Set up a fraud alert and/or freeze your credit
- Contact the fraud department of your credit card issuers and other accounts
- Sign up for a credit monitoring and identity theft protection service
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Alert the Social Security Administration (if necessary)
- Close your financial accounts and/or ask for new account numbers and cards
- Take necessary steps to repair your credit (learn more in the next section)
Should Identity Theft Victims Contact an Attorney?
If you’ve suffered at the hands of identity thieves, you may be dealing with creditors, debt collectors, and decreased credit scores for years to come. With that in mind, there are many ways to fight to get your life back.
Contacting an experienced attorney who helps identity theft victims correct the errors on their credit report may be the best option to take back control of your identity.
It’s recommended that you consult with an experienced Florida credit reporting error attorney. Continue reading to learn how the attorneys at Ziegler Diamond Law can help you get your life back after identity theft.
Contact Ziegler Diamond Law Today
Identity theft can be stressful, scary, and overwhelming. That’s especially true if your credit score and financial reputation are ruined due to identity theft. Depending on the facts of your case, there may be many options to correct the credit errors available.
Our credit reporting error attorneys are uniquely qualified to help you get back on track and are here to ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today for a free initial consultation with a Florida lawyer you can trust.