How Can a Lawyer Help When You Report Identity Theft?

Identity Theft

In 2020 there were 49 million consumers who fell victim to identity fraud. The loss to Americans was $56 billion.

Thirteen billion was due to cybercriminals stealing personal information through data breaches. The remaining $43 billion was through interactions directly with victims, obtaining information through robocalls and phishing emails. Eighteen million people were the victims of digital payment scams.

Once you report identity theft, how do you know whether you also need to contact a consumer defense attorney? What are the types of identity theft and how can an attorney help? Keep reading for everything you need to know.

Common Types of Identity Theft

Technology makes it easy for scammers to impersonate anyone on the telephone or in emails. To avoid falling prey to a scammer, do not answer calls from unfamiliar phone numbers. If the call is legitimate they will leave a message.

Any form of contact you receive requesting your bank account number, credit card number, or social security number is fraudulent. Government agencies and banks will never request this information via phone or email.

Be wary of anyone using a high-pressure tactic to get your information immediately. Legitimate companies will allow you to consider your options and call back.

One method for scammers to access your information is by using log-in information from old data breaches. To prevent access update your passwords periodically and make sure passwords are not compromised. The longer, more complex your password is the more secure it will be.

The Federal Trade Commission has several emails you can sign up for, including coronavirus scams and consumer alerts.

How to Report Identity Theft

When you realize you are a victim, reporting identity theft is your priority. There are 10 steps you need to take:

  1. File a report with your local police department
  2. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission
  3. Advise the IRS and file a claim with your identity theft insurance
  4. Notify companies of your stolen identity
  5. Notify all creditors you are the victim of identity theft
  6. Notify credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your accounts
  7. Freeze your credit
  8. Check your credit reports regularly for any mysterious activity
  9. Sign up for any credit monitoring services available
  10. Watch your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity

Filing a report with your local police department provides protection for yourself. The police report creates a paper trail that may be invaluable in the event someone uses your information while committing a crime.

Your Rights as a Victim of Identity Theft

Title 18 of the U.S. Code, §1028 sets forth the definition of identity theft as knowingly transferring, possessing, or using the identity of another person without their authority. When your personal information is stolen, clearing your name can be a time-consuming, challenging process.

Credit Report Information

As the victim of identity theft, you have the right to ask credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your file. This lets potential creditors know that your identity may be used fraudulently. To enact an alert, contact the three main credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

You may request one free copy of each credit report per year. It is good practice to do a complete review of your credit every twelve months.

If you belong to a free organization such as Credit Karma you will receive monthly email updates regarding your credit score and any activity on your TransUnion and Experian credit reports. This is an easy way to monitor your credit activity.

Copies of Fraudulent Applications

When you are a victim of identity theft creditors and businesses must provide you with copies of the applications and any other business records relating to the transactions and accounts relative to your identity being stolen. You may need to pride proof of your identity, a police report, and an affidavit before they provide you with any information.

Disclosure From Debt Collectors

Debt collectors have an obligation to provide you with information. This includes the name of the creditor and the amount of debt you believe is the result of identity theft.

You have the ability to request a block on your account regarding items in collections that are the result of your identity being stolen. You may also request businesses not send credit reporting agencies information about you that is the result of identity theft.

Juggling these steps is time-consuming and can feel overwhelming as you struggle to put your credit back on track. That is where an identity theft attorney may be able to provide assistance.

What Can a Lawyer Do to Help With Identity Theft

Identity theft attorneys such as have experience and knowledge in consumer protection and credit defense law. They understand your rights under the law and the requirements of agencies to cooperate with you. As a victim of identity theft, you have a right to receive restitution for both the actual harm you incur plus the time you spend trying to restore your credit and identity.

Many state laws have additional remedies that go beyond federal remedies. This includes the ability to file lawsuits to recover damages. When you meet with an identity theft attorney they will advise you on the laws that apply to your case and remedies available.

It is difficult to find the actual person who stole your identity, so filing a civil lawsuit against them is not likely. Depending on circumstances, your attorney may find cause to file a lawsuit against those who had access to your information.

This includes your credit card number, social security number, and other personal information the thief gained access to. Agencies such as banks, financial institutions, creditors, government agencies, and employers may be liable. Depending on the facts surrounding your case, your attorney may file a lawsuit for:

  • Invasion of privacy
  • Negligence
  • Publication of private facts
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Infliction of emotional distress
  • Breach of contract

When consulting with your attorney for the first time, provide as many details about your case as possible. Sometimes what seem like minute details to you can be important in proving an element of your case.


Depending on your particular case and the extent of damages you suffer, you may be able to recover several forms of compensation.

  • Compensatory damages—for financial losses as a result of the theft
  • Emotional damages—for emotional distress causing anxiety or depression as a result of the theft
  • Punitive damages—if personal information was recklessly or intentionally exposed
  • Injunctive relief—releasing you from debts you did not personally accrue

An identity theft attorney will be able to determine what claims you can make in a lawsuit and what compensation you may be able to recover.

Don’t Hesitate to Report Identity Theft

Now that you know how an attorney can help, do not hesitate to report identity theft to an attorney. They will be able to evaluate your case and advise you on your rights.

Be aware that an identity theft attorney does not deal with hunting down or prosecuting the criminals who stole your identity. Their goal is to help you recover your lost identity and restore your credit through various means under the law.

If you found this information valuable, we invite you to skim through our other blogs for additional information on a variety of topics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *