In August Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency, announced that over 140 million had their information compromised after a data breach took place between May and July.
Identity Theft and the Equifax Breach
It has now been reported that economic losses of $125 million spurred by the Equifax breach were among the largest on record ever recorded. If you have been affected by identity theft and online fraud, there are things you can do.
- Check your credit reports.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
- Monitor existing credit card and bank accounts closely.
- Place a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they need to verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
A data breach is when the records of a company are either lost or stolen. When this happens, any sensitive information the company may have of yours, such as social security number, bank information, or credit card information, can end up in identity thief hands. They can then use your information to steal your money, access your cards, or create new accounts using your name.
Things to Know About Identity Theft
A data breach can happen anywhere, not just at major department stores such as The Home Depot or Target. It can happen at small neighborhood stores like a local hardware store, as well as your doctor’s office or large or small online retailers, and even credit card companies and banks.
Being a victim of a data breach puts you at risk for identity theft. Identity theft can result in blemishes on your credit report, calls from collection agencies for unpaid bills the thief is responsible for, and can even go as far as compromising your income tax records, prevent you from getting loans, and even cause foreclosure on your house.
State laws usually require businesses to notify customers of data breaches within a certain time period or face fines. Only five states do not have laws about data breaches (Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Colorado). Many companies pay for credit monitoring for 6 to 12 months for their customers who may be affected. Although the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recommended that businesses offer this after a data breach, it’s not required.
What To Do If You’re an Identity Theft Victim
If you’ve discovered you’re an identity theft victim, some things you can do to deal with it include:
- Contact at least one, but preferably all three, credit bureaus (Experian®, TransUnion®, and Equifax®) and request a security/fraud alert be included in your credit profile. Although it will limit your ability to be approved for new credit, it will also prevent an identity thief from opening new credit in your name.
- Request and review an official complimentary credit report for any suspicious activity or information.
- Review all billing statements for fraudulent activity and immediately contact the creditor to dispute any suspicious charges you don’t recognize.
- Fill out an Identity Theft Report to remove fraudulent information on your credit reports. The “Identity Theft Affidavit” form can be downloaded from the Federal Trade Commission’s website, and can be used to file a police report. *
- Get an extended fraud alert, which will remain for seven years, and request the removal of any fraudulent data on your credit report.
To remove any fraudulent activity from your credit report you’ll need to provide the following information:
- Proof of identity
- Fraudulent data identification on your credit report
- Copy of your official identity theft report (see “*” above)
- Your statement saying the fraudulent activity on your credit report is not associated with any transaction you made
Within four business days all fraudulent activity should be removed from your credit report. It’s important that you continue to regularly monitor your credit report. This is the best way to protect yourself from any harmful effects of identity fraud and theft, both now and in the future.
If you have been a victim of identity theft or think you’ve been a victim of a data breach, contact an identity thief attorney such as Sevens Legal, APC, for assistance. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
Working with Sevens Legal, APC
After you have discussed the specifics of your case, your Sevens Legal, APC, will let you know your case’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as any possible risks associated with punishment and convictions you may face. Your Sevens Legal, APC, defense attorney can help negotiate a plea deal or whether the best course of action is to move forward to trial, while working constantly for your best interests.
Sevens Legal, APC, criminal defense lawyers put our experience to work for you. Every defendant deserves a zealous defense. To schedule your free consultation with one of our Sevens Legal, APC, criminal defense lawyers, call (619) 494-3440. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
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