Are You a Victim of Identity Theft? Here’s What to Do.
While an individual charged with committing identity theft can be charged with a class 4 felony in Arizona, those who have been victimized by this crime can also feel lasting consequences in their life as a result of their personal information having been stolen.
Identity theft occurs when a person takes the identity of another person or entity with the intent to use that information for any unlawful purpose or to cause loss to that person or entity. This often involves the victim’s name, social security number, driver’s license number, or financial account information being used for the offender to obtain credit cards, make fraudulent purchases, rent or buy housing or vehicles, or to re-route mail.
As a result, the victim may face a frustrating road to correct their credit score, dispute collections letters, or gain loans at their appropriate interest rate.
How Identity Thieves Gain Personal Information
Offenders who commit identity theft often do so by:
- Stealing wallets and purses or other bags.
- Using a change-of-address form to re-route a victim’s mail.
- Going through trash receptacles.
- Stealing mail.
- Installing “skimmers” at ATMs, cash registers, and fuel pump stations.
- Stealing personal information from individuals connected to public wi-fi networks.
- Conducting phishing schemes or installing computer viruses.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
The following suggestions can help prevent your personal or financial information from being compromised or used against you:
- Regularly review debit and credit card transaction history to check for fraudulent charges.
- Continually change passwords to online accounts that store sensitive personal data.
- Create strong, unique passwords for all online accounts.
- Do not provide personal information in response to unsolicited or unknown emails, texts, letters, or phone calls.
- Keep your financial institution information private.
- Do not click on hyperlinks or download attachments from unsolicited texts or emails.
- Set up two-step verification for your email account.
- Review your credit report at least annually.
- When possible, make purchases with a credit card rather than a debit card.
- Wipe personal information off computers and other electronic devices before disposing of them.
- Do not carry your social security card with you.
- Minimize the amount of credit cards you have open and/or carry.
- Remove your name and number from telemarketing lists.
- Do not store documents containing personal information in your vehicle’s glove compartment or similar areas.
Steps to Take if You’ve Become a Victim of Identity Theft
If you find that you have been victimized by identity theft, you should contact:
- The fraud department of your banking or credit institution to report fraudulent charges or the loss of a card.
- The Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft reporting service.
- The major credit reporting agencies, (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), to ask for a credit freeze or a fraud alert.
- The Arizona Department of Revenue Identity Theft Call Center.
- Your local police or law enforcement agency to provide a statement and report of the crime.
- Contact the Victim Services department for your local prosecutor’s office. Each prosecuting agency provides a victim representative for such issues. Some are listed here:
RIDEOUT LAW GROUP
With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.
Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:
- charges that are reduced or dropped.
- top experts reviewing your case.
- aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
- fines or probation in lieu of jail time.
At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.
Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.