Specific Crimes Covered Under The Relevant Laws
The language of the Social Security Handbook makes clear that certain acts are punishable offenses. For example, if you create a counterfeit Social Security card with a name other than your own, you’ve furnished false information about your identity. Likewise, if you’ve used a Social Security number belonging to someone else in order to obtain or increase a Social Security payment or any other federal benefit, you’ve clearly committed one or more acts of financial fraud. Depending upon the specific circumstances, you can be charged with other crimes as well. For example, if you use a fake number to get a credit card because your own credit is poor, you’ve also committed fraud.
Who Is At Risk Of Unemployment Benefits Fraud
Scammers will exploit all avenues in an attempt to steal personal information so that they can use it for their financial benefit. Anyone can be a victim, but these people are at a higher risk:
- Individuals with leaked personal information due to a data breach
- Victims of identity theft
- Individuals who gave out their personal information to third parties without knowing what itll be used for
How To Place A Fraud Alert
A fraud alert will make it harder for scammers to destroy your financial standing. It notifies credit card companies and other lenders or creditors that your personal information may have been compromised or you may be a victim of identity theft.
When lenders receive the alert, lenders have to verify your identity before processing your credit application. This additional security measure will prevent scammers and identity thieves from taking out loans or opening new accounts under your name.
You only need to place a fraud alert with one of the three major credit reporting agencies since this will automatically trigger alerts at all three bureaus . However, you have to contact each credit reporting agency if you want to remove the fraud alert.
How Can I Sue Someone For Identity Theft
As previously mentioned, the first thing a victim must do is to figure out who stole their identity. If they do not know offhand, then they should file a report with their local police department. If the police capture the offender, they will conduct an investigation and submit their findings to the local district attorneyâs office.
From there, an attorney will be assigned to the case, review the evidence, and decide whether to prosecute the offender. If the prosecutor presses charges, the defendant will be tried and punished in criminal court.
If the criminal case is unsuccessful or the victim requires compensation for the crime, they may bring a case in civil court based on a tort law theory. They can do this by hiring a private attorney and having them assemble their case.
In a situation where the victim does not know the thief and law enforcement cannot locate them, it may be possible to go after some of the parties listed in the above section for âwho can be held liable.â Each agency and financial institution may have a different procedure to follow in order to bring a lawsuit. Additionally, each state also has separate laws and procedures for filing identity theft lawsuits and related claims.
Thus, it may be in a personâs best interest to contact an attorney for advice regarding identity theft lawsuits.
Consider A Credit Freeze
The strongest protection against new accounts being opened in your name is a credit freeze, also called a security freeze. A freeze means that your file cannot be shared with potential creditors, insurers, employers, or residential landlords without your permission. For more information, see our CIS 10: How to Freeze Your Credit Files.
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Report The Fraud To The Three Major Credit Bureaus
You can report the identity theft to all three of the major credit bureaus by calling any one of the toll-free fraud numbers below. You will reach an automated telephone system and you will not be able to speak to anyone at this time. The system will ask you to enter your Social Security number and other information to identify yourself. The automated system allows you to flag your file with a fraud alert at all three bureaus. This helps stop a thief from opening new accounts in your name. The alert stays on for 90 days. Each of the credit bureaus will send you a letter confirming your fraud alert and giving instructions on how to get a copy of your credit report. As a victim of identity theft, you will not be charged for these reports. Each report you receive will contain a telephone number you can call to speak to someone in the credit bureaus fraud department.
What Can I Recover
Aside from recovering identity theft compensation , a victim will also have certain rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act , such as stopping creditors and debt collectors from reporting fraudulent accounts, getting extended fraud alert protection on credit reports, and requesting that fraudulent information be removed from credit reports.
Additionally, if the victim is a business, they can also request that fraud alerts be put on their business accounts and if their name or trademarks were tampered with, they can contact the Secretary of State to amend their filings.
However, when it comes to lost assets, it is generally much harder to recover monetary damages as a business since an individual thief will usually not have the funds to compensate them for such a major loss especially, if they are sentenced to prison.
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B Exception For Laws And Regulations In Effect Before January 1 1975
Federal, state, and local agencies may deny an individual a right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individuals refusal to disclose the individuals social security number if required under statute or regulation adopted prior to January 1, 1975, and used to verify the identity of an individual.
A second exception to the general provisions of section 7 is set out in subsection 7, which grandfathers statutes or regulations in effect before January 1, 1975, and provides that the prohibition on denying a benefit because of an individuals failure to provide a social security number does not apply to those statutes and regulations. SeeSchwier v. Cox, 439 F.3d 1285, 1285-86 grandfather exception did not apply to Georgia voter registration procedures), affg 412 F. Supp. 2d 1266 , remanded by 340 F.3d at 1288-89 McKay v. Thompson, 226 F.3d 752, 755 s exception for systems of records in existence prior to January 1, 1975, where disclosure was required under statute or regulation).
What Do You Do If Someone Has Your Social Security Number
If you know your Social Security number has been stolen, here are some additional steps to take:File a police report or a Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Report. If you believe your identity has already been used, you can also contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 269-0271.More items
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If You Are Contacted By A Debt Collector
Tell the debt collector that you are the victim of identity theft. Say that you dispute the validity of the debt. Say that you did not create the debt and are not responsible for it. Send the collector a follow-up letter saying the same things. Include a copy of your police report and of any documents youve received from the creditor. Write in your letter that you are giving notice to a claimant under California Civil Code section 1798.93, subsection that a situation of identity theft exists. Send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the debt collector is not the original creditor, be sure to send your letter within 30 days of receiving the collectors first written demand for payment.
Request Additional Free Credit Reports
California identity theft victims with a police report of identity theft are entitled to receive up to 12 free credit reports, one per month for the 12 months following the date of the police report. The procedure for requesting free monthly reports is different for each of the credit bureaus.
Experian: Make a single request to receive all of your free monthly reports. Mail your request for 12 free monthly reports to Experian at P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013. Enclose a copy of the police report of identity theft, a copy of a government-issued identification card , and a copy of proof of current mailing address . Also provide your full name including middle initial , previous addresses for the past two years, Social Security number and date of birth.
TransUnion LLC: Write or call in your request each month. Mail to TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016. Or call the toll-free number printed on your most recent TransUnion LLC credit report. Provide your full name including middle initial , Social Security number, date of birth, and proof of residence .
Equifax: Write or call in your request each month. Mail to Equifax Fraud Department, P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374. Or call the toll-free number printed on your most recent Equifax credit report.
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What To Do If Your Information Is Found On The Dark Web
In response to the UC Accellion Data Breach, many of you signed up for the Experian IndentityWorks credit monitoring service. As a result, you might have received notifications from Experian that your information was found on the dark web. The dark web is where sites illegally sell consumer data and other black market goods – dont go there.
Your information could show up on the dark web for all sorts of reasons, many of them prior and unrelated to the Accellion breach. Experian provides information in each notification about the context of when your information was found, including a Found On date.
You May Be A Victim Of Unemployment Identity Theft If You Received:
- Mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment and you did not recently file for unemployment benefits. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards and could be from any state.
- A 1099-G tax form reflecting unemployment benefits you weren’t expecting. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits you did not receive or an amount that exceeds your records for the unemployment benefits you did receive. The form itself may be from a state in which you do not live or did not file for benefits.
- While you are still employed, a notice from your employer indicating that your employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim in your name.
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When Applying For Other Government Benefits
The Social Security Administration and the IRS have a right to insist on your SSN but most other government agencies typically do not.
The Privacy Act of 1974 in fact compels government agencies to inform you if you are legally obligated to comply with their request for a Social Security number. If the agency has no legal right to demand it they cannot refuse you services or benefits because you refused to provide a Social Security number.
Do I Need To Hire An Attorney If I Am A Victim Of Identity Theft
As is evident from the above discussion, recovering from identity theft is a very complex process. There are multiple parties that can be sued, various laws that must be filed, different procedures that must be followed, and many measures that must be taken afterwards to prevent it from happening again.
Therefore, if you are a victim of identity theft, it may be in your best interest to hire a local identity theft attorney, or alternatively, a criminal lawyer. Your lawyer can discuss what rights you have, what you can potentially recover, and whether you have a supportable case. If you have a case, your lawyer can help you prepare and file it, as well as represent you on the matter in court.
In addition, your lawyer can also assist you with the recovery process, provide guidance on which financial institutions or government agencies to contact, and explain how to report an instance of identity theft to the FTC.
- No fee to present your case
- Choose from lawyers in your area
- A 100% confidential service
Who Can I Sue For Identity Theft
Ideally, you would like to bring a lawsuit against the individual whostole your identity however, these thieves are usually difficult tofind. In cases where the actual thief cannot be identified or located,you may be able to file suit against another party. Typically, theseparties are those who had access to your social security number, creditcard number and other personal information, and may include thefollowing:
- Infliction of emotional distress and
- Breach of contract.
When you initially provide your attorney with information about yourstolen 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 informationthat is relevant to your case, as this can help in determining the bestroute for recovery.
Check If Your Child Has A Credit Report
Generally, a child under 18 wont have a credit report unless someone is using his or her information for fraud. A good way to find out if someone is using your childs information to commit fraud is to check if your child has a credit report. To do that, contact the three credit bureaus and ask for a manual search for your child’s Social Security number. You may have to give the credit bureaus a copy of
- your drivers license or other government-issued identification card
- proof of your address, like a utility bill, or a credit card or insurance statement
- your childs birth certificate
- your childs Social Security card
If youre not the childs parent, you may have to give the credit bureaus a copy of documents that prove you are the childs legal guardian.
When Your Child Turns 16
When your child turns 16, you may want to check if theres a credit report in his or her name. This could help you spot identity theft, since children under 18 usually dont have a credit report. If theres inaccurate information in your childs credit report, youll have time to correct it before he or she applies for a job, a college loan, a car loan, or a credit card, or tries to rent a place to live.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered
Depending on the cause of action, extent of the injury, and intendeddefendant, there may be several forms of compensation available for thevictim. These include:
- Compensatory damages for financial losses incurred as a result ofthe theft.
- Emotional damages may be available if the victim sufferedemotional distress, such as anxiety or depression, from the theft.
- Punitive damages may be applicable if the victims personalinformation was intentionally or recklessly exposed.
- Injunctive relief releasing the victim from debts owed that theydid not accrue.
If you have had your identity stolen, you may have legal recourseagainst a number of parties. To learn more about your legal options andhow our identity theft attorneys may be able to help you, pleasecomplete our case evaluation form, at no costor obligation to you.
We Tell You We Have A Suspicious Return With Your Name On It
Often, the IRS Taxpayer Protection Program identifies a suspicious tax return bearing your name and SSN and will send you a notice or letter. The TPP proactively identifies and prevents the processing of identity theft tax returns and assists taxpayers whose identities are used to file such returns. There are many reasons why a return may appear to suspicious to us, and we take this precautionary step to help protect you. Heres what happens in this situation:
- You may receive a Letter 4883C from the IRS asking you to verify your identity within 30 days.
- Follow the letters instructions to verify your identity.
- Have a copy of your prior-year tax return, if you filed one, to help verify your identity.
- Verify your identity. If you are unable to verify your identity with the customer service representative, you may be asked to visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in person. You should plan on providing picture identification plus the letter and a copy of the affected tax return if you did file one.
- If you receive similar notices about suspicious returns, you do not need to complete the Form 14039 unless instructed to do so.
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If You Are Wrongly Accused Of A Crime Committed By An Identity Thief
“Criminal identity theft” is a label given to a particular type of identity theft. Criminal identity theft occurs when a suspect in a criminal investigation identifies himself or herself using the identity of another, innocent person. A special database in the California Department of Justice can help victims of this kind of identity theft. See our Consumer Information Sheet 8: How to Use the California Identity Theft Registry- A Guide for Victims of “Criminal” Identity Theft.
Reporting Unemployment Identity Theft
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