Identity theft is one of the fastest growing types of crime in our era. As more and more information becomes electronically available, even the most cautious of us are at risk. Many people believe that if they avoid sketchy online retailers, change their strong passwords regularly, and write “check ID” on the back of their credit cards they are safe from this risk. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
Even the Most Cautious People Run a Risk of Identity Theft
In a recent report on the myth of identity theft protection, CBS reported on the example of health insurance provider Anthem. In the United States health insurance is one of those services that, if you are able to access it you pretty much have to have it, both because it is the only realistic way to afford medical care for most people and because of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.Health insurance is not an optional expense in today’s world. But, by purchasing this crucial services from a major health insurance provider like Anthem, 80 million consumers put themselves at risk for identity theft because the company stored its customer’s’ social security numbers without encrypting them. Social security numbers open the door to nearly every type of identity theft.
In the worst cases, identity theft victims can even find themselves in jail because of thieves. WSB-TV Atlanta reports that one Atlanta victim spent 32 days in a jail in Pulaski County, Missouri. His former roommate stole his identity and used it to pass bad checks in Missouri, which resulted in eight warrants being issued. But it was the victim—not tThe identity thief did not get arrested, however, the victim did. –who got arrested. And thatit meant he had to suffer through the extradition process and a seven- day bus trip through nineteen states while shackled in a van. The victim wound up losing two jobs and his car—, plus, in order to get out of jail before the charges were ultimately dismissed, he had to pay money to a bondsman.
You are Even at Risk After Death
One of the most dangerous times when it comes to identity theft is actually immediately after your death. If this happens to you it can be an absolute nightmare for your family. CBS Money Watch reports that identity thieves can undo a whole host of theft-prevention precautions just by making a few phone calls. They can then use your identity that still exists on paper to obtain credit and make purchases, and your estate will wind up with the bills. This means that when you do your estate planning you will want to consider taking steps to deactivate your financial identity upon your death.
What You Can Do if You Are an Identity- Theft Victim
Various consumer protection laws provide ways to recover after you become a victim of identity theft. It can be a long and tedious process. There are provisions in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and Electronic Fund Tranfer Acct that can be used to protect you from being held responsible for debts accrued by these thieves. There are also state law provisions that can help you put a freeze on your identifying information to prevent thieves from using it to open new accounts using your identity. Navigating all of these processes can be quite complicated and frustrating on your own. That is why it is so important to seek out the help of an experienced consumer protection attorney like Brian Bromberg.