Until you have been victimized by identity theft, you may be unaware of just how devastating this crime can be. Offenders can face serious criminal penalties if convicted of identity theft at the state or federal level.
However, victims will need to take action to rebuild their credit scores and address the information contained in their credit reports and background checks. Failure to do so could result in further consequences that you may not be prepared for.
Take steps to address your identity theft and take charge of your personal information once more when you contact the experienced Alexandria identity theft lawyers at Berger Montague. Schedule a free consultation today to find out how to handle your identity theft case.
Identity Theft in Alexandria
One of the reasons why criminals can commit identity theft is because there are so many different ways in which your personal identification and information can be stolen. This has only increased with the rising popularity of the Internet and cybersecurity.
Identity theft plagues millions of people across the country. In Alexandria, when someone attempts to use your personal information, whether that be your name, Social Security number, address, or other credentials to further their own interests without your consent, they are committing identity theft.
Some common examples of identity theft can include:
- Using someone’s Social Security number to open up a new line of credit without their consent
- Using someone else’s name or Social Security number to open up utility accounts
- Using someone else’s personal identification to defraud them
- Facilitating the concealment of a crime
- Using someone else’s name when arrested on criminal charges
- Obtaining medical care using someone else’s name
- Using a child’s Social Security number to open up a line of credit, obtain a personal loan, or open up fraudulent accounts
- Obtain tenancy or other utility services with no intention of covering the costs, leaving the identity theft victim stuck with collections accounts
Criminals continue to find new ways to take advantage of others through the theft of their personal identification information. If you discover that your identity has been stolen, it is important to take action to protect your Social Security number, your name, and your future.
An Alexandria identity theft attorney can help you go through your information and take steps to secure your identity and personal identification so your information does not become readily available to other criminals across the world.
The Impact of Identity Theft in Alexandria
You may be surprised at how significantly your life could be affected when your identity has been stolen. In certain emergency situations, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will issue a new Social Security number. Unfortunately, the SSA does not consider identity theft to be an emergency situation.
If you are a victim of identity theft, it will be up to you to take action to clear up any mistakes, errors, instances of fraud, and other inconsistencies associated with your personal identification, Social Security number, credit report, and credit score.
This is a burden you will need to bear for the rest of your life. When you attempt to obtain a mortgage, open up a new line of credit, apply for a job, or otherwise form financial partnerships, your identity theft could have an impact on these opportunities.
For example, suppose you were hoping to open up an account with your local gas company after moving. However, what if you learn that someone stole your identity and opened up an account, failed to pay the bill, and left you stuck with the costs? The local gas company may be unwilling to open up a new account until the discrepancy is addressed.
Penalties for Identity Theft in Virginia
Identity theft in Virginia is considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the details of your case including the amount of theft of goods or services, and the number of people who may have been affected.
For example, someone convicted of a Class 4 felony identity theft charge could face up to 10 years in jail and fines as high as $100,000, per Va. Code § 18.2-10(d). The state of Virginia takes identity theft seriously and will do everything possible to hold criminals accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
For this reason, it is important to file a police report with the Alexandria Police Department and other relevant law-enforcement agencies once you learn that you have been a victim of identity theft. Similarly, you will need to make an identity theft report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Steps to Take When You Discover Your Identity Was Stolen
When you initially discover that your identity has been stolen, you will need to take action quickly. Your first call should be to an Alexandria identity theft attorney who can help guide you through your next steps.
Generally, one of our first responsibilities will be to file a report with the local police. Then, we can reach out to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the FTC, and any lenders or creditors on your credit report. We’ll go through your reports in detail to determine where inconsistencies lie and how to address them.
Working to correct these mistakes with the credit reporting bureaus will be critical if you hope to protect your financial future. It may be wise to place a freeze on your accounts for a minimum of one year once your identity has been stolen, as this will require creditors, lenders, and other financial partners to verify your identity before moving forward.
Your Identity May Have Not Been Stolen After All
Unfortunately, consumers don’t always realize something is wrong until they make a big life decision like buying a house or applying for a new job. It’s then that they receive errors on their background check or credit report that make them think their identities were stolen.
During our investigation into your identity theft, we may discover that your identity wasn’t stolen as you might have thought. Most of the time, we’ve discovered that those errors were due to negligent methods by a credit reporting agency or background check company. They may make name-only matching or matches of partial birthdays, SSNs, or other identifying information.
When agencies and companies publish these erroneous reports, they are in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, consumers have rights protected by federal law. Among those rights, consumers can hold the negligent party liable for losses they incurred as a result of the errors and pursue financial compensation.
Identity theft is very real, very dangerous, and very scary. But it can be confusing knowing how the errors got there and who can be held responsible. Working with attorneys who are extremely familiar with technology, privacy, and data breaches is your best option for getting your errors fixed and obtaining money damages for your losses.
Berger Montague Is Your Elite Legal Resource
Most consumers don’t realize how valuable their cases may be. They just want their errors fixed and their identities back. The resourceful, nationally recognized FCRA attorneys at Berger Montague can do all that and more.
We can fix your errors, obtain the compensation you deserve, and ensure that background check companies and credit reporting agencies alter their methods so that these issues don’t happen again. In fact, we routinely settle cases involving FCRA violations for more than $100,000.
We have 50 years of experience and 65 attorneys representing clients nationwide. And we’ve secured over $36 billion in settlements and verdicts from individual and class action lawsuits since 1970. With strong financial resources, elite academic pedigrees, and state-of-the-art technology, we are easily the best FCRA firm in the country.
Meet With an Identity Theft Attorney in Alexandria
Identity theft can be traumatic. However, when you get help from a dedicated Alexandria identity theft lawyer at Berger Montague on your side, you can rest easier.
We will help you reach out to credit reporting bureaus and lenders to address inconsistencies and false information on your credit report and score, as well as any other consequences that may arise.
We also work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t accept payment unless and until we win your case. We only take a portion of your settlement or court award. And per the FCRA statute, the other party will cover attorney fees and litigation costs when we win.