Identity Theft - An Overview

Despite the advent of the Internet, the main source of private data for identity thieves continues to be stolen or misplaced purses and wallets. Take care to safeguard the important personal information you carry publicly every day. If your security is compromised, report it to law enforcement immediately and contact an attorney about possible legal remedies.

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If your credit rating is damaged because of identity theft, we can help. The law office of Thomas R. Breeden, P.C., in Manassas, Virginia, has helped hundreds of people remove black marks from the credit report and re-establish their good name. Call 703-659-0188 for Initial consultation.

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Identity Theft - An Overview

Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, occurs when someone uses another person’s important personal identifying information for improper purposes. If you suspect you have been the victim of identity theft, an experienced and skilled attorney from Thomas R. Breeden, P.C. in Manassas, VA, can advise you of the possible ramifications and potential legal remedies.

Profile of Identity Theft

Millions of Americans are victims of identity theft each year. Most commonly, the victim knows the thief, who uses their relationship for access to the personal information. Such criminals are usually friends, neighbors, relatives, work colleagues or people employed to provide services in private homes. Even in this digital age, the most common source of personal information is still from a misplaced or stolen purse or wallet. However, an identity thief may be a stranger, and the source of the misappropriated personal information can be an electronic or written source.

Common Scenarios

The types of personal information that are most commonly misappropriated and that are particularly subject to misuse include names, Social Security numbers (SSNs), drivers license numbers, passport numbers, account numbers, employer or taxpayer ID numbers, passwords and dates of birth. This information may be used to penetrate assets of the rightful holder, such as making unauthorized withdrawals of money from his or her financial accounts. The stolen identity may also be used by the thief to conduct countless forms of fraudulent business transactions — to obtain credit or a mortgage, to purchase a car or real estate, to lease an apartment, to obtain utility service and even to obtain employment. Bizarrely, some identity thieves even set up new lives as impostors or commit crimes while masquerading as their identity theft victims. Victims of this type of identity theft have been subject to arrest and prosecution for crimes they did not commit because the trail of evidence led to their names. Other frequent identity fraud pertains to immigration and public benefits.

What You Can Do

When your identity is stolen, there are a few things you can do immediately:

  • Inform all financial institutions or account holders affected by the fraud and close affected accounts
  • File a complaint with the FTC, which will share the information with domestic and international law enforcement authorities
  • Alert the local police department where the fraud took place and insist that it create a report
  • Contact one of the three main credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion or Experian) to ask that a fraud alert be placed on your credit reports
  • Keep good records of everything that you do to resolve the identity theft
  • Contact an attorney to learn about other remedies, such as possible lawsuits

Identity Theft is a Crime

Identity theft is a federal crime and may violate other federal laws, depending upon the facts of the case. Several states also make identity theft itself a crime and other state criminal laws are also usually violated by typical identity fraud. Ultimately, the thief of your identity could be prosecuted in federal or state court and part of the punishment may include restitution to you for your losses.

Civil Remedies

An attorney can advise you about potential civil legal remedies. You may be able to sue the identity thief for your economic and non-economic damages, depending on the law of your state and on the particular situation. Non-economic damages in some states could include damages for mental anguish. Another possible source of recovery could be from third parties responsible for illegally or negligently releasing your private information, such as financial institutions, credit card companies or any other entity holding private information.

Protect Yourself

Carefully guard your private information from third parties, but if it is misappropriated, aggressively protect yourself from damage. An attorney knowledgeable in consumer fraud and identity theft at Thomas R. Breeden, P.C. in Manassas, VA, can advise you about possible legal remedies.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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