There is no question that we live in a new digital era. With more and more of our lives being put online via social media and through online services, the issue of identity theft has become both more relevant and more threatening over the past decade. Now almost anyone can gain access to personal information that was once held secret, all without you knowing. While this sounds distressing, the law does provide us with ways to protect ourselves. In order to protect yourself, however, it is important to know how to detect signs that you might be a victim of identity theft.
Keep Track of Records
While there is no need to fear every online service available, it is important to be aware of your own financial situation. This is because the best way you can protect yourself is to identify any potential wrongdoing as soon as possible. Some things you can do to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for signs of identity theft include:
-Checking bank records for unusual activity
-Keeping track of all bills or other mail related to your accounts
-Being aware of any credit cards you did not sign up for
-Taking note of any unusual phone calls from debt collectors
-Monitoring your credit reports and credit score
These are just a few things to look out for when you monitor your own accounts in order to ensure that you have not become a victim of identity theft. While this might seem like a daunting task, there are provisions in the law that can assist consumers in keeping track of their financial status. For example, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles consumers to one free credit report each year, available at www.annualcreditreport.com. In addition, if your credit application should be denied by a company, or if a credit company takes adverse action against you, the FCRA allows you to get another free credit report. This additional report, however, is available for only 60 days after you are notified of the credit denial or adverse action.
Report Loss as soon as Possible
In addition to keeping an eye on your own records, it is important to always report any missing, lost or stolen credit cards or ATM or debit cards as soon as possible. This is because there can be severe penalties for untimely reporting. If you manage to report the loss before any theft has occurred, then you will not be liable for any loss. The law, however, awards timeliness and vigilance, since the statutes protecting against fraudulent transfers become less and less potent as time goes on. For example, if you report the loss within two days of losing the card, then you will only be held responsible for $50 of any loss or debts incurred with that card. If you report the loss between 2 and 60 days after learning of the loss or theft, then you can be held responsible for up to $500 of loss. If you report after the 60 day period, however, you can be held responsible for any and all loss incurred as a result of theft or fraud.
Contact an Attorney
If you, or someone you love, are a victim of identity theft, then you need a dedicated attorney that will help you navigate the legal system in order to protect your rights. Contact an experienced, skilled attorney at the Bromberg Law Office, P.C. to make an appointment today.