Teenager looking at locked phone

Keeping Your Children Safe from Identity Theft

Most people think identity theft only affects adults. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, a large percentage of identity theft victims are children. Therefore, if you have kids, you must remain vigilant when it comes to their identities. In this article, we discuss how to keep your children safe from identity theft. 

How Thieves Use Children’s Personal Information

There are many ways that identity thieves use children’s personal information, including:

  • To apply for and open credit card accounts
  • To obtain loans
  • To seek unemployment, Social Security benefits, and other government services
  • To open bank accounts for use in fraudulent money transfers

Steps to Take to Protect Your Child’s Identity

Although it is impossible to protect against identity theft completely, there are several steps you can take to reduce your child’s odds of becoming an identity theft victim, including:

Place security freezes on your child’s credit reports: There’s no reason for the majority of children to have credit reports, as it is illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to apply for a loan or credit card in their own name. However, if a fraudulent loan or credit card application has been submitted in your child’s name, then he or she may have one or more credit reports. If this is the case, you should place a freeze on the reports. 

Guard your child’s Social Security numbers: You should be very careful about sharing your child’s Social Security number. For instance, there is rarely a reason to share your child’s Social Security number with a private business. In fact, even just the last four digits of your child’s Social Security number can be useful to identity thieves. Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to never share this information unless dealing with a government entity or other reputable source. 

Avoid oversharing on social media: Social media is a goldmine for identity thieves—especially when people overshare personal information. Identity thieves routinely comb social media for personal information, from addresses and birthdays to clues about security questions. Therefore, in order to reduce the odds of your child becoming a victim of identity theft, you should minimize the amount of information you share online.

Monitor your child’s social media activity: Finally, to prevent identity theft, you should carefully monitor your child’s social media activity. In fact, you should seriously consider not allowing your child to use social media at all—there are simply too many risks involved. However, if you do allow your child to use social media, you should establish strict rules and provide him or her with a list of the kinds of information to never disclose online. 

Contact a Consumer Class Action Lawyer 

Identity theft is often the result of negligence on the part of organizations that store people’s personal information. If you believe that the negligence of a business or other entity has resulted in the theft of your child’s identity, experienced attorney Seth Lehrman is here to help you seek financial compensation for all losses stemming from the theft. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with our talented class action lawyer.

Victim of identity theft on a computer

An Overview of the Effects of Identity Theft

Identity theft affects victims in many ways. And although there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming an identity theft victim, it’s impossible to immunize yourself against it completely. Therefore, it’s important to understand the ways that identity theft can affect you. In this article, we examine the effects of identity theft. 

Tangible Effects of Identity Theft

Identity theft has a number of tangible effects on victims, including:

Damaged credit: If a criminal uses a person’s Social Security number (SSN) to open new credit accounts, this can severely damage the victim’s credit. Not only can this affect a person’s ability to obtain new lines of credit, but it can also hurt the victim’s job prospects and increase his or her insurance premiums.

Tax debt: Identity theft can also leave victims with a hefty tax bill. For example, identity thieves sometimes file fraudulent returns in a victim’s name to obtain a tax refund, leaving the victim to deal with the aftermath. 

A criminal record: When a criminal uses a person’s identity to commit a crime and then gives the victim’s information to the police following an arrest, the identity theft victim can end up (at least temporarily) with a criminal record.  

Lost time and money: Finally, it can take years to recover from identity theft, and victims routinely lose money in the form of expenses caused by the theft.

Emotional Effects of Identity Theft 

As discussed above, identity theft clearly has tangible effects on its victims. However, identity theft can also take a heavy emotional toll on those unlucky enough to be affected by the illicit practice. Unfortunately, the emotional effects that identity theft has on victims are often overlooked. Victims of identity theft often feel violated, anxious, and unsafe. In addition, when a victim has trouble proving identity theft, this can lead to anger and frustration. Further, the stress suffered by identity theft victims can even take a toll on them physically. For example, studies have shown that many identity theft victims experience physical symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, aches and pains, sweating, and stomach issues.

The Bottom Line

Given the seriousness of the effects of identity theft, it is important that victims take steps to remedy the harm they have suffered. One way to recover from the effects of identity theft is to seek legal recourse. Therefore, if you are a victim of identity theft, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible for help. 

Contact an Identity Theft Lawyer 

Identity theft is routinely the result of the negligent actions or inactions of organizations that store your personal information. If an organization’s negligence has resulted in the theft of your identity, our attorneys are here to help you seek financial compensation for all losses stemming from the theft. Please contact our Identity Theft lawyer as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.

Class action attorney with client

4 Surprising Identity Theft Facts You Need to Know

Identity theft is a huge problem in the United States. In fact, the number of identity theft cases increases every year, meaning that more Americans are vulnerable to this illicit practice than ever before. And to make matters worse, when it comes to identity theft, everyone is a potential victim. In this article, we examine four surprising identity theft facts you need to know. 

#1: Identity Theft Often Originates at Work 

The tactics used by identity thieves have changed in recent years, particularly when it comes to choosing their targets. Although identity thieves still target private individuals, they are increasingly focusing on employers. In fact, it has been estimated that up to 50 percent of identity theft now originates at the workplace. One reason for this is that businesses obtain and store a large amount of personal data on their employees, including addresses, Social Security numbers, and other personal details. Unfortunately, this makes the workplace a prime target for identity thieves. 

#2: Identity Thieves Don’t Just Target the Rich

A common misconception regarding identity theft is that identity thieves only target the rich. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however. In reality, identity theft affects people of all income levels. For example, in 2016, around 40 percent of all identity theft victims had a household income of under $25,000. 

#3: Age Doesn’t Matter to Identity Thieves

Identity thieves aren’t picky when it comes to age. Although most identity theft cases involve victims between the ages of 18 and 49, identity thieves routinely target people that fall outside of this age range. In fact, more than one million of the approximately 17 million Americans who had their identities stolen in 2017 were children.

#4: Identity Theft Puts More Than Victims’ Finances at Risk

Although identity theft has serious financial ramifications, identity theft can affect much more than a victim’s finances. Examples of ways that identity theft affects victims include:

  • Identity thieves sometimes use their victims’ identities to obtain medical services. When this occurs, the thief’s medical records can become intertwined with the victim’s records, resulting in serious complications.
  • During times of crisis, such as natural disasters, identity thieves often use victims’ personal information to file fraudulent claims, thereby resulting in the denial of victims’ legitimate claims. 
  • Identity thieves sometimes provide other people’s personal information to the authorities when facing criminal charges. This can result in identity theft victims being arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.

Contact a Consumer Class Action Lawyer 

If you have had your identity stolen, you need the assistance of an experienced consumer class action lawyer. Identity theft is often the result of the negligent actions or inactions of entities that store your personal information. If an entity’s negligence has resulted in the theft of your identity, our experienced lawyers will work diligently to ensure that you are compensated for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.

lawyer explaining a class action lawsuit

Data Breaches and Identity Theft

A data breach, also called a data leak, is a security event in which confidential information is exposed, stolen, or transmitted. When a data breach occurs, the leaked information is often exploited by hackers for personal gain. One way that criminals use such information is through the illicit practice of identity theft. In this article, we discuss how data breaches place people’s personal information at risk. 

Ways that Data Breaches Occur

There are several ways that data breaches occur, including: 

Insider leaks: An insider leak occurs when a person with access privileges to a system, such as an employee, uses his or her credentials to commit cyber theft. When an employee commits cyber theft, the employee can be held responsible for the breach. 

Software or hardware exploitation: Hackers can exploit out-of-date software to steal customer data. In addition, some criminals use credit card skimmers at point-of-sale terminals to capture and transmit sensitive credit card information.

Malware attacks: Data thieves are notorious for their success at using phishing and spam emails to trick recipients into downloading malware attachments or visiting compromised websites. When a recipient downloads a malware attachment or visits a dangerous website, this enables hackers to access the recipient’s computer, which in turn may result in the exposure of confidential information. 

Password exploitation: Weak passwords are another common cause of data breaches. Hackers routinely exploit people’s tendency to use weak passwords to access private information. In addition, to exploit the common practice of reusing the same password for multiple sites, cybercriminals engage in a practice called credential stuffing, which takes a database of stolen usernames and passwords and automatically attempts to stuff the credentials into other applications.

Drive-by downloads: A person can unintentionally download a computer virus or malware simply by visiting a compromised website. When this occurs, the recipient puts his or her entire computer network at risk. 

Types of Information at Risk 

Most, if not all, major businesses store customer information digitally. Unfortunately, all this information is at risk when a data breach occurs. Although customer names and email addresses are the most common types of information exposed in data breaches, hackers sometimes gain access to more damaging types of information, including:

  • Dates of birth
  • Phone numbers
  • Email passwords
  • Website passwords
  • Social Security numbers 
  • Home mailing addresses 
  • Tax ID numbers
  • Credit card and bank account numbers 
  • Health insurance information
  • Investment information 
  • Utility account information

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney Today! 

If you are a victim of identity theft, you need an experienced consumer class action attorney in your corner. Identity theft often occurs due to the negligence of institutions that store your personal information. If an institution has leaked your personal information, our attorneys will work hard to ensure that you obtain financial compensation for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Woman holding her phone concerned

6 Worrying Identity Theft Facts

Technology does much to improve our lives. It allows us to easily communicate with one another, do important tasks in a fraction of the time it took only a few years ago, and immediately access practically anything we need. However, as much as it makes our lives easier, technology also has its downsides. One unfortunate byproduct of our reliance on technology is a sharp increase in identity theft. In this article, we examine six worrying identity theft facts.  

Fact #1: Credit Card Fraud is the Most Common Type of Identity Theft

Credit card fraud is committed far more often than other types of identity theft. In fact, around 18,000 people contacted the Federal Trade Commission in 2020 and 2021 to report instances of credit card fraud. 

Fact #2: 33% of Americans are Identity Theft Victims 

Statistics indicate that around 33% of Americans have been victimized by identity thieves. This is double the world average. 

Fact #3: People Who Actively Use Social Media are at High Risk of Identity Theft 

Active social media users are approximately 30% more likely to have their identities stolen than people who aren’t active on social media. In fact, social media has become one of the primary places where scammers find their victims. Identity theft statistics indicate that Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat users are at an even higher risk of identity theft than active users of other social media networks.  

Fact #4: 15 Million Americans Experience Identity Theft Each Year

Around 15 million people in the United States become identity theft victims every year. This results in a staggering $50 billion in financial losses. To put this in perspective, this equals approximately 4.5% of all U.S. residents.

Fact #5: Children are Common Identity Theft Victims

Shockingly, over 1,000,000 young children become identity theft victims every year. Around 50% of these victims are six years old or younger.

Fact #6: Identity Theft is Committed Every 14 Seconds

Not only is identity theft in the United States widespread—it is also frequent. In fact, studies have shown that someone becomes a victim of identity theft every 14 seconds in the United States. 

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft 

Although identity theft is a growing problem, it is possible to reduce your odds of becoming an identity theft victim by taking the right steps. Steps you can take to protect yourself include:

  • Regularly check your credit report.
  • Enable two-step online verification whenever possible.
  • Vary your passwords and change them frequently.
  • Make your social media accounts private. 

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney Today! 

If you have had your identity stolen, you need an experienced consumer class action attorney on your side. Identity theft is frequently the result of negligence on the part of institutions that store people’s personal information. If an institution has provided unauthorized access to your information, our attorneys will strive to ensure that you obtain compensation for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

lawyer explaining a class action lawsuit

Is Identity Theft Common?

When it comes to identity theft, everyone is vulnerable. In fact, identity theft affects approximately one in 20 Americans every year. In 2019 alone, roughly 13 million consumers in the United States were affected by identity fraud with total losses of around $17 billion. In other words, identity theft is a widespread problem, and the losses suffered from this illicit practice are staggering. In this article, we discuss identity theft and how to prevent it. 

 Common Types of Identity Theft 

Although there are several types of identity theft, most fall into the following categories:

  • Unauthorized debit and credit card use: With this type of identity theft, thieves use people’s card credentials to make unauthorized purchases. 
  • Account takeover: When thieves have access to people’s login credentials, they sometimes access victims’ accounts to change account details, make purchases, or withdraw money. Common targets include checking and savings accounts, accounts linked to credit cards, mobile phone accounts, and investment accounts. 
  • Taking out loans or opening credit accounts: Another common type of identity theft occurs when thieves use people’s personal identifying information to take out loans or open credit accounts. Since these accounts are linked to a person’s identity, this type of identity theft can severely damage an identity theft victim’s credit. 
  • Government fraud: Finally, identity thieves also use stolen information to simultaneously defraud theft victims and the government. Specifically, identity thieves use people’s information to obtain government benefits, create fake identification, provide documentation to employers, and file fraudulent tax returns.  

Common Sources of Identity Theft

One of the most unsettling things about identity theft is the number of ways in which thieves obtain people’s personal information. Common sources of identity theft include: 

  • Stolen or discarded documents containing personal identifying information
  • Public wi-fi networks
  • Data breaches affecting government agencies, merchants, health care companies, and other organizations
  • Lost or stolen debit or credit cards
  • Social engineering operations that trick people into providing their card credentials or other personal information

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Although it isn’t possible to avoid the risk of identity theft completely, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Steps you can take to prevent identity theft include:

  • Monitor your credit and accounts
  • Stay off public wi-fi
  • Use an encrypted internet connection
  • Use caution when using the internet 
  • Use unique, complex passwords
  • Shred important documents and mail before discarding 

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney Today! 

If you are a victim of identity theft, you need an experienced consumer class action attorney in your corner. Identify theft is often the result of negligence by institutions that store your personal information. If an institution has provided unauthorized access to your personal information, our attorneys will work hard to ensure that you obtain financial compensation for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

man calling about scam

The Top 3 Identity Theft Scams

We live in an increasingly technologically driven society. And although technological advances make our lives easier in many respects, they also place us at risk. Unfortunately, as technology has improved, so have the abilities of thieves to steal people’s identities. Luckily, by staying vigilant, taking precautionary steps, and remaining aware of common identity theft scams, the odds of becoming an identity theft victim drastically decrease. In this article, we examine the top 3 identity theft scams. 

Government Document and Benefits Fraud 

Identity theft involving government benefits has skyrocketed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Important government information that criminals target with this type of identity theft includes victims’ Social Security numbers, driver licenses, and passport data. With a stolen Social Security number, an identity thief can open credit card and bank accounts, apply for loans, file fraudulent tax returns, claim unemployment benefits, and apply for Social Security benefits.

If you suspect that someone has stolen your driver’s license, Social Security card, or passport, or if you have lost any of these documents, you should notify the appropriate government agency immediately.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is on the rise. In fact, the number of credit card fraud reports in 2020 rose over 40% from 2019. With credit card fraud, and identity thief purchases something using a victim’s existing credit or debit account. In addition, once a criminal has a person’s personal information, he or she may use this information to open a new credit account. In order to detect credit card fraud, you should check your credit card account statements frequently and immediately dispute any unusual charges. In addition, you should review your three credit reports at least once a year. 

Loan or Lease Fraud

With a loan or lease fraud, an identity thief uses a victim’s personal information to take out a payday loan or apply for a car loan, mortgage, or vehicle lease. Criminals can apply for payday loans using a person’s Social Security number or banking information. When the identity thief fails to repay the loan on time, the loan company will expect the fraud victim to pay the amount owed. Often, victims of this type of fraud don’t realize there is a problem until they receive a collection letter. In order to monitor whether any fraudulent loans have been taken out in your name, you should regularly review your credit report.  

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney Today! 

If you have had your identity stolen, you need an experienced consumer class action attorney on your side. Identify theft often occurs when institutions negligently fail to protect consumers’ personal information. If an institution has provided a party with unauthorized access to your personal information, our attorneys will work hard to ensure you are fully compensated for your financial losses. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

elder on phone with credit card company

Protecting Your Credit Following a Data Breach or Identity Theft Incident

We trust the organizations we do business with to protect our personal information. Unfortunately, however, they don’t always do so. If your personal information has been compromised following a data breach or identity theft incident, you must take immediate steps to protect your credit. If you fail to do so, you face a long, hard road back to financial stability. In this article, we explain how to protect your credit following a data breach or identity theft incident. 

Review Your Credit Reports

The first thing you should do following a data breach or suspected identity theft incident is reviewed your credit reports from the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). After reviewing your reports, you should continue to closely monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts for any activity you don’t recognize. 

Consider a Credit Freeze or Fraud Alert

After a breach, you generally have two options to protect yourself from identity theft: (1) a credit freeze and (2) a fraud alert. If you aren’t in the market for credit or loans, the best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to request a credit freeze through each of the credit bureaus discussed above. A credit freeze shuts down access to your credit report and provides you with a personal identification number that allows you alone to access your report. Since most creditors must see your credit report before approving a new account, a credit freeze makes it hard for identity thieves to open accounts in your name. 

If you plan to apply for credit, however, you should consider issuing a fraud alert instead of a credit freeze. This ensures that your credit report remains accessible to others, but it warns potential creditors that you may be an identity theft victim. 

File Reports

In addition to the above actions, if you have noticed fraudulent activities on any of your credit accounts, you should consider doing the following: 

  • File a police report: Filing a police report will give you certain legal rights when you report the identity theft to creditors or credit agencies.

 

  • File a Federal Trade Commission complaint: The Federal Trade Commission uses consumer complaints to track patterns of fraud, and this can help them identify and pursue identity thieves.

 

  • Notify your creditors of the theft: Finally, you should report the theft to your creditors and close any of your accounts that have been opened fraudulently or otherwise tampered with. 

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney Today! 

If you are an identity theft victim, you need an experienced consumer class action attorney in your corner. Identify theft often occurs when businesses and other financial organizations negligently fail to protect your personal information. When one of these entities provides a party with unauthorized access to your personal information, we will work hard to make sure you are fully compensated for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.

data security concept, mobile application access, login and password

Identity Theft Risk Factors

When it comes to identity theft, everyone is a potential victim. The number of identity theft cases in the U.S. increase every year, and thousands of Americans fall victim to this practice every day. Although it’s possible to rebuild your life after becoming a victim of identity theft, the process can take years. Fortunately, by understanding some common identity theft risk factors, it is possible to take steps to decrease your odds of having your identity stolen. In this article, we discuss a few of the primary identity theft risk factors.

Education and Income

Individuals with a college education are approximately 10 percent more likely to become identity theft victims than those with some or no college education. In addition, as a person’s income increases, so do his or her odds of becoming a victim of identity theft.  

Age

 Age is another factor that affects one’s identity theft risk. The highest risk age groups for identity theft are children, college students, and the elderly. Although it may come as a shock to learn that children are at high risk for identity theft, they are over 50 times more likely to become identity theft victims than adults.

Location

Location can affect one’s odds of becoming an identity theft victim. Residents in the following states are particularly vulnerable to having their identities stolen: 

  • Florida
  • The District of Columbia
  • California
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Illinois
  • Texas
  • Missouri
  • Connecticut

Reduce Your Odds of Becoming an Identity Theft Victim

Although the above factors increase the risk that you will have your identity stolen, there are steps you can take to reduce your odds of being victimized, including: 

  • Change your passwords frequently. Identity thieves often gain access to people’s personal information by obtaining their passwords. Therefore, you should choose passwords that are difficult to guess and change them often.

 

  • Be cautious online. When you share personal information online, you increase your odds of becoming an identity theft victim. Therefore, you should be very cautious about what you post on the internet.

 

  • Be cautious offline. Identity theft doesn’t only occur on the internet. Therefore, you should also be very selective about the information you share with people you come into contact with within your day-to-day life.

 

  • Protect your phone. Finally, you should be careful about the apps you download for your phone. Specifically, you should make sure your phone is password-protected, and you should only use apps that use industry-grade encryption methods.

 

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney Today! 

If you have had your identity stolen, you need an experienced consumer class action attorney on your side. Identify theft is often the result of the negligence of businesses and other financial organizations that store or have access to your personal information. When one of these entities provides a party with unauthorized access to this information, our attorneys will work hard to make sure you are fully compensated for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Two male figures going over legal documents

Suing a Creditor Over Uncollectible Accounts

A North Carolina debt buyer has filed a lawsuit alleging that national rent-to-own company Aaron’s sold its consumer accounts that were uncollectible. In the lawsuit, Turtle Creek Assets (TCA), the debt buyer, claims “a serial betrayal of trust by Aaron’s that injured not just the plaintiff (TCA) but has had a collateral effect on thousands of consumers.”

According to the allegations by TCA, Aaron’s, which is a company that has a nearly $4 billion market value, knew the accounts it sold to TCA had issues. TCA claims that Aaron’s sold it the accounts of consumers who were victims of identity theft or had already returned their rented items or settled their accounts. In addition, TCA asserts that other accounts it purchased were involved in legal proceedings that limited or prevented TCA from attempting to collect on the debts.

TCA alleges that despite Aaron’s agreement to only provide the debt buyer with accounts that were valid and without legal issues, the retail giant instead sold TCA uncollectible accounts that caused TCA to attempt to collect debts from consumers who should have never been subjected to such activities. 

In late 2020, Aaron’s disclosed that it was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for possible violations regarding its sale of consumer debt. The company reported that, although it believed that it was in compliance with the law, it had proposed an agreement to the FTC prohibiting such sales in the future. 

According to TCA’s owner, Gordon Engle, Aaron’s sold over $500 million worth of debt to TCA between 2010 and 2017. Engle claims that TCA paid less than two cents on the dollar for each account with the understanding that some of it would be uncollectible. For several years, TCA resold the Aaron’s accounts to debt collection lawyers around the country. However, when Aaron’s prevented TCA from reselling the accounts in recent years, TCA began trying to collect on the consumer debts itself.

According to Engle, many consumers contacted by TCA claimed that they hadn’t been to Aaron’s and were victims of identity theft. Some consumers had police reports to corroborate their claims and stated that they had previously informed Aaron’s about the issues.

Do You Owe a Debt to Aaron’s that is the Result of Identity Theft?

If you have been informed that you owe a debt to Aaron’s that is the result of identity theft, you should contact an experienced Florida consumer class action attorney immediately for assistance. At Edwards Pottinger LLC, our firm’s class action group is led by experienced consumer class action attorney Seth M. Lehrman. Mr. Lehrman litigates class actions across the country on behalf of consumers, and he is eager to provide you with effective representation in your identity theft class action lawsuit. Please contact us as soon as possible to begin your journey to financial recovery.