identity theft

Is Identity Theft Common?

Many people think that identity theft is something that will never happen to them. Unfortunately, however, identity theft is becoming increasingly common in the United States. Approximately one in 20 Americans are affected by identity theft each year. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission received more than two million fraud reports from consumers in 2020. In addition, total reported losses from identity theft were approximately $3.3 billion in 2020, up from around $1.8 billion in 2019. Of these reported losses, nearly $1.2 billion were due to imposter scams, while online shopping accounted for approximately $246 million in reported losses from consumers.

What Are the Most Common Types of Identity Theft

There are several common types of identity theft, including: 

  • Unauthorized debit and credit card use: Identity thieves often use consumers’ debit and credit card credentials to make unauthorized purchases.  
  • Account use: Criminals also access consumers’ accounts to make purchases and withdraw funds. Common targets include checking and savings accounts.
  •  Opening credit accounts or taking out loans: When identity thieves get ahold of consumers’ personal identifying information, they can use it to open credit accounts and take out loans. 

Causes of Identity Theft

In order to commit identity theft, thieves must first get ahold of consumers’ personal identifying information. Thieves often obtain such information from the following sources:

  • Wi-Fi networks
  • Stolen or discarded documents
  • Data breaches affecting government agencies, merchants, health care companies, and other major organizations
  • Stolen or lost debit or credit cards
  • Social engineering scams 

The Effects of Identity Theft

Despite the fact that much of the financial damage caused by identity theft can be alleviated by reporting the fraud and filing claims with affected financial institutions, identity theft costs consumers roughly $3.5 billion every year in out-of-pocket costs. 

Preventing Identity Theft

Although it’s difficult to avoid the risk of identity theft completely, there are several steps you can take to reduce your odds of becoming an identity theft victim. Proactive steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft include:

  • Regularly monitor your credit reports and accounts
  • Use an encrypted internet connection 
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi
  • Be mindful of your online activity
  • Use unique, complex passwords
  • Shred all confidential documents before discarding them 

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney 

If you are a victim of identity theft, you must take immediate steps to begin repairing your finances—the most important of which is contacting an experienced consumer class action attorney. Identity theft often happens because businesses fail to protect your personal information. When a business provides a third party with access to your personal information without your permission, our experienced consumer class action attorney will work to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions and that you are compensated for your losses. Please contact us today to begin your journey to financial recovery. 

identity theft

Recognizing and Preventing Identity Theft

Identity theft is a growing problem in the U.S. In fact, approximately 30 percent of all adults in the country will have their identities stolen at some point in their lives. In other words, identity theft is a very real threat to everyone. Luckily, there are steps that consumers can take to recognize and prevent identity theft. By learning how to spot the signs of identity theft early, it is possible to drastically lessen the impact that it can have on your life. In this article, we explain how to recognize and prevent identity theft.  

Recognizing Identity Theft

The most effective way to deal with identity theft is to recognize it as soon as possible. And the best way to spot identity theft early is to regularly review your credit report. Your credit report details your current credit status. If you review your report and see something you don’t recognize, like a credit card you didn’t apply for, this is a sign that someone may have stolen your identity. However, your credit report is just one way to recognize identity theft. Additional signs that you may be an identity theft victim include: 

  • Receipt of bills for things you didn’t purchase or statements for credit cards you don’t recognize
  • Denial for loans or credit cards despite a good credit history
  • Unauthorized bank transactions
  • Failure to receive certain bills or checks 
  • Receipt of notice that your private information was part of a data breach
  • Receipt of unauthorized authentication messages by text or email for unknown accounts

Preventing Identity Theft 

Although it isn’t possible to remain 100% safe from identity theft, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of having your identity stolen, including:  

  • Shred important documents and bank statements that you don’t plan to save
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi 
  • Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet
  • Use strong passwords
  • Keep your personal information off social media

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney 

If your identity has been stolen, there are specific steps you can take to begin repairing your life and finances—the most important of which is contacting an experienced consumer class action attorney. Identity theft is often caused by financial organizations and other businesses that fail to protect your personal information. When a financial organization or business provides a third party with access to your personal information without your permission, our experienced consumer class action attorney will work hard to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions. Attorney Seth Lehrman has extensive investigative, litigation, and trial experience, and he is eager to provide you with effective representation in your identity theft class action lawsuit. In addition, our consumer class action team has the experience and resources required to fight major corporations and big businesses in court. Please contact us as soon as possible to begin your journey to financial recovery. 

debt collection

Can Debt Collectors Call My Family?

Debt collectors are known for doing whatever it takes to collect a debt, including calling a debtor’s family members. For debtors, this can be humiliating. And unfortunately, this tactic is often effective, as it forces debtors to pay up to avoid future embarrassing phone calls. In this article, we examine whether it’s legal for a debt collector to call a debtor’s family to try to collect a debt.

The Reason Debt Collectors Call Family Members

When trying to collect a debt, debt collectors first attempt to contact debtors directly. However, when this fails, debt collectors will often reach out to a debtor’s family members. The goal of a debt collector when contacting a debtor’s family is to obtain accurate contact information for the debtor. However, as noted above, this also often has the effect of placing pressure on debtors to pay to avoid further humiliation. 

Is It Legal for Debt Collectors to Call Family Members?

It is legal for a debt collector to contact a debtor’s family. However, when doing so, debt collectors must adhere to the requirements of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act limits what a debt collector may say to a debtor’s family when trying to collect a debt. 

Limitations

The information a debt collector may share with a debtor’s family is limited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. For one, a debt collector can’t share details of the debt with a debtor’s family. However, this limitation doesn’t apply when a debt collector contacts a debtor’s spouse, parents (if the debtor is a minor), guardian, or executor. In addition, a debt collector can’t reveal that he or she works for a collection agency unless a debtor’s family member expressly asks for this information. 

How to Prevent Debt Collectors from Calling Your Family

If a debt collector has called your family about a debt you allegedly owe, you may take any of the following actions to prevent future calls: 

  • Pay the debt (if the debt is actually yours).
  • Request that the debt collector stop contacting you and your family about the debt via a cease and desist letter.

What to Do About Debt Collection Violations

If you believe a debt collector has violated your rights, you can file a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In addition, you should strongly consider contacting a Florida consumer class action attorney for assistance. 

Contact a Florida Consumer Class Action Attorney 

If you are the victim of illegal debt collection practices, you should contact a Florida consumer class action attorney as soon as possible for assistance. Attorney Seth Lehrman is dedicated to helping you fight back against debt collectors who break the law. Attorney Seth Lehrman has decades of experience trying consumer class action cases in both state and federal court, and he is well known for helping victims achieve justice. Please contact us today to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation. 

work call

Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work?

Debt collectors use a variety of tactics to try to collect debts. One such tactic is contacting debtors by phone. However, when debt collectors have trouble getting ahold of debtors by calling them at home, they often resort to other means, including calling debtors at work. Debt collection calls at work aren’t only annoying—they can put your job at risk. In this article, we examine whether debt collectors can call you at work. 

Debt Collectors Can Call You at Work

Debt collectors may call you at work, but only under specific circumstances. Debt collectors may not call you at your job if they know (or should know) that your employer doesn’t allow such calls. For example, if you are in a line of work that makes it clear that debt-related calls aren’t permitted, or if you have told a debt collector that you may not receive debt collection calls at work, then they must refrain from doing so. 

Preventing Debt Collection Calls at Work

There is a fairly easy way to prevent debt collection calls at work: simply tell the debt collector that you aren’t allowed to receive debt collection calls at work. Once a debt collector is aware of this, the calls must cease. However, just to make sure you cover your tracks, document the date and time that you asked the debt collector to stop calling you at work. You may also follow up with a letter to the debt collector for additional proof. 

In addition to asking a debt collector to quit calling you at work, you can simply pay off your debt to prevent future contact. Before you pay off the debt, ask the debt collector to provide you with proof that the debt is yours and that you’re legally obligated to pay it. Obviously, if the did isn’t yours, you shouldn’t pay it. 

What to Do if Debt Collectors Keep Calling at Work 

If you continue to receive debt collection calls at work even after you’ve asked the debt collector not to do so, you may submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In addition, you may have grounds to sue the debt collector for actual and punitive damages.

Florida Consumer Class Action Attorney 

If you’re a victim of illegal debt collection practices, you need an experienced Florida consumer class action attorney on your side. Attorney Seth Lehrman is dedicated to helping you fight back against debt collectors who use illegal debt collection practices. Attorney Seth Lehrman has decades of experience trying consumer class action cases in both state and federal court, and he is widely recognized for helping victims of unfair business practices achieve justice. So, if you have been victimized by the illegal practices of a debt collector, please contact us today to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation. 

debt collection

Understanding Illegal Debt Collection Practices

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is a consumer protection law that is designed to protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices. Unfortunately, however, many debt collectors are all too happy to violate the FDCPA in their quest to coerce consumers into making payments. Fortunately, when debt collectors violate the FDCPA, consumers have multiple legal options available. When a debt collector uses illegal means to try to collect a debt, the affected debtor has the following options available:

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Use the violation as leverage to negotiate a favorable settlement.
  • Sue the debt collection agency. 

If you are a victim of any of the illegal debt collection practices described below, you should contact a Florida consumer class action attorney as soon as possible, as you may be entitled to compensation under the FDCPA.   

Illegal debt collection practices under the FDCPA

Abuse or harassment: When trying to collect a debt, the FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from

  • threatening to use violence against a debtor;
  • threatening to harm a debtor;
  • using obscene, profane, or abusive language;
  • repeatedly calling a debtor; and
  • contacting a debtor without first identifying his or herself as a debt collector.

Improper contact: Under the FDCPA, a debt collector may not contact a debtor

  • at an unusual or inconvenient time or place,
  • at work if the debt collector knows that the debtor’s employer doesn’t allow collections calls at work, or
  • directly if the debt collector is aware of should be aware that the debtor is represented by an attorney.

Misleading or false statements: The FDCPA prohibits a bill collector from using misleading or false statements to collect a debt. 

Unfair practices: Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is prohibited from employing outrageous or unfair practices to collect a debt. 

Third-party communications: Finally, a debt collector is prohibited under the FDCPA from contacting third parties to try to collect a debt. However, a debt collector may contact a debtor’s parents (if the debtor is a minor), spouse, and co-debtors. 

Florida Consumer Class Action Attorney

If you’ve been the target of illegal debt collection practices by unscrupulous debt collectors, you need an experienced and aggressive Florida consumer class action attorney on your side. Attorney Seth Lehrman is dedicated to protecting the legal rights of consumers, and this includes helping them fight back against debt collectors who use illegal debt collection practices. Attorney Seth Lehrman has decades of experience trying consumer class action cases in both state and federal court, and he is widely recognized for helping victims of unfair business practices achieve justice. So, if you or a loved one have been victimized by the illegal practices of debt collectors, please contact our office as soon as possible to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation. 

identity theft

Common Identity Theft Myths

Identity theft is a serious problem in the United States. In fact, approximately 35 percent of all adults in the United States have been victims of identity theft. In order to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, it’s important to have accurate information about the crime. Unfortunately, however, there’s a lot of misinformation out there on the topic. In order to help clear things up, we’ve compiled some of the most common identity theft myths. 

Myth #1: Identity theft just happens to adults

Most people believe that adults are the only victims of identity theft. After all, children don’t file taxes or have credit cards. Unfortunately, however, children are approximately 35 times more likely than adults to become identity theft victims. Criminals often steal children’s Social Security numbers from school or medical records, and information that kids share online can also be used to commit identity theft. 

Myth #2: Identity theft mainly happens online

The internet is indeed a common source of identity theft. However, criminals continue to steal people’s identities by other means. In fact, a 2014 FTC report found that nearly half of all fraud complaints involved telephone scams. Therefore, in order to prevent identity theft, it’s important to remain vigilant regardless of whether you are online or offline. 

Myth #3: You’ll quickly know if your identity is stolen

It takes approximately 34 days for a person to learn that he or she has become a victim of identity theft. This average is even higher for theft not involving credit cards. This gives criminals plenty of time to do ample financial damage before a person figures out what’s going on. Luckily, by remaining vigilant, consumers can drastically reduce their odds of becoming identity theft victims. 

Myth #4: Identity theft only affects your finances

Although identity theft is primarily a financial crime, it can affect far more than your finances. For example, if a criminal who has stolen your identity is pulled over for a traffic violation and fails to appear in court, the authorities will issue an arrest warrant—for you. 

Myth #5: There’s nothing you can do to prevent identity theft

You can absolutely prevent identity theft if you remain vigilant. Regarding credit card fraud, you should check your transactions weekly for signs of foul play. If you see anything suspicious, you should immediately contact your card company. You should also check your credit report at least once a year for signs of suspicious activity. 

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 often the result of the negligence of businesses and other organizations that store or have access to your personal information. When a business or other entity fails to adequately protect your personal information, our consumer class action attorneys will work hard to ensure that you receive financial compensation for your losses. Our talented lawyers have the experience and knowledge to succeed in your consumer class action lawsuit. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

identity theft

Who Is at Risk for Identity Theft?

Identity theft is on the rise in America. Every day, thousands of Americans fall victim to this illicit practice. And although there are ways for identity theft victims to clean up the mess caused by fraudsters, it can take years to get things back on track following the theft of one’s identity. Everyone is at risk for identity theft. However, some people are more vulnerable than others. Below are some of the main factors that can put you at risk for identity theft.

Age

Your age can put you at risk for identity theft. The three main age groups at the highest risk of identity theft are the elderly, children, and college students. Although it may be surprising that children are often the victims of identity theft, children are more than 50 times more likely to be identity theft victims than adults.

Education and Income

People with college degrees are roughly 10 percent more likely to be victims of identity theft than those with some or no college education. Also, the higher one’s income is, the more likely he or she is to be a victim of identity theft.   

Location

The state you live in can affect your odds of becoming a victim of identity theft. Residents in the following states are at high risk for identity theft: 

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

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

To protect yourself from identity theft, you should take the following steps

  • Be careful what you share online. Any time you share personal information on the internet, you increase your risk of becoming an identity theft victim. 
  • Change your passwords often. Password breaches are a common form of identity theft. Therefore, you should choose complicated passwords and change them often. 
  • Be careful offline. Identity theft isn’t just an online phenomenon. Therefore, you should never share personal information with people you don’t know. 
  • Protect your phone. Finally, you should only use apps on your phone that use industry-grade encryption methods. Also, you should make sure your phone is password protected.

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 is often caused by the negligent actions of businesses and other financial organizations that store or have access to your information. When a business or other entity provides a party with unauthorized access to your personal information, our talented attorneys will work hard to ensure that you receive financial compensation for your losses. Our talented attorneys have extensive litigation, investigative, and trial experience, which means that we have what it takes to succeed in your consumer class action lawsuit. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

illegal robocall

Company Forced to Pay Nearly $1 Billion in Damages for Illegal Robocalls

A federal judge recently upheld an award of nearly $1 billion in a class-action lawsuit against a marketing company that placed nearly 2 million recorded robocalls. In the original case, a jury found that the company, ViSalus, had conducted unlawful telemarketing practices by placing almost 2 million recorded robocalls offering deals on dietary supplements, weight-loss products, and energy drinks.

The suit was filed by an Oregon woman who had once been an employee of the company. In her lawsuit, the ex-employee argued that the company’s practice of placing prerecorded calls was in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). 

Under the TCPA, a consumer who receives robocalls, telemarketing calls, or unsolicited faxes to his or her cellphone or residential landline may file a lawsuit against the telemarketer or debt collector. The potential penalties for violations of the TCPA are as follows

  • A penalty of up to $500 for each violation of the do not call registry
  • A penalty of up to $500 per phone call that violates the TCPA
  • A penalty of up to $1,500 for each knowing and willful violation of the TCPA 

In this case, the court determined that ViSalus made 1,850,436 unlawful automated calls, resulting in a fine of $500 per call. In the federal court’s opinion, the court stated that the award amount was based on a simple application of the TCPA. Noting the “stratospheric” number of TCPA violations in the case, the court stated that it was unsurprising that the constitutionally valid minimum penalty of $500 per call resulted in such a large award. In doing so, it dismissed ViSalus’s argument that the size of the award was unconstitutional, stating that the crux of ViSalus’s argument was that if a defendant commits a violation enough times, the penalty for a single violation becomes unconstitutional. 

Elaborating on this point, the court cited a 2020 opinion by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was a case the government brought against Dish Network. In that case, the court held that a defendant can’t complain about the consequences of its own extensive misconduct when such conduct results in a large penalty due to the excessive number of violations committed by the defendant. 

Contact a Florida TCPA Attorney 

If you’ve received unsolicited robocalls, our experienced Florida TCPA attorney is here to help you obtain compensation for your troubles. When you contact experienced and knowledgeable attorney Seth Lehrman, he’ll diligently pursue financial compensation on your behalf. Seth Lehrman represents individuals who have received unwanted robocalls or texts in TCPA cases in Florida and nationwide. If your TCPA claim is successful, you are eligible to recover up to $1500 for each documented violation of the TCPA law. Therefore, if you have received unsolicited robocalls or have been subjected to other harassing behavior by telemarketers, please contact us today for a free consultation.

lawyer explaining a class action lawsuit

An Overview of Class Action Lawsuits

Although most people have heard of class action lawsuits, not many have a good understanding of them. Broadly speaking, class action lawsuits are legal actions brought on behalf of groups of people. Class action lawsuits differ from traditional lawsuits, which are typically filed by single individuals. However, there is much more to class action lawsuits than the number of parties involved. Below is an overview of class action lawsuits. For additional information, please contact a Florida class action attorney

Class Action Lawsuit Requirements

A class action lawsuit is a type of legal action that is filed on behalf of a class of people who all have similar claims against a defendant or group of defendants. Class action lawsuits are filed in court by class representatives or lead plaintiffs. After a class representative or lead plaintiff files a class action lawsuit, the court determines whether it will permit the matter to move ahead as a class action. There are several factors that a case must meet in order for it to move forward as a class action. These factors are: 

  • Numerosity, which means that there must be a large enough number of individual claims to make class certification the most effective manner to proceed;
  • Commonality, which means that the claims must be similar;
  • Typicality, which means that the class representatives’ claims must be typical of all other class members’ claims; and
  • Adequacy, which means that class representatives must be willing and able to represent the class in an effective manner. 

Settlement and Judgment 

Each class member in a class action lawsuit is bound by the terms of the class action settlement or judgment. If the lawsuit seeks monetary damages, all class members receive notice of the proceedings, a description of the lawsuit, and information on how to opt out of the lawsuit. Class members who opt out are ineligible to obtain financial recovery from the lawsuit. 

Relief

Most class action lawsuits seek to obtain financial relief for every class member. A class action lawsuit may also ask the court to define the obligations and rights of the class versus the defendant. This is called a declaratory judgment class action. In addition, class action lawsuits sometimes ask the court for injunctive relief. If a request for injunctive relief is successful, the court can order the defendant in the case to take certain actions or cease certain conduct.

Contact a Florida Class Action Attorney 

If you are interested in pursuing a class action lawsuit in Florida, you need an experienced Florida class action attorney on your side. Class action lawyer Seth Lehrman and his class action team have extensive investigative, litigation, and trial experience. Mr. Lehrman’s firm has the knowledge, experience, and resources required to effectively represent you in your class action lawsuit. For class action legal assistance, please contact our law firm today for a consultation.

Security lock, cyber security concept

When Can I Sue for Identity Theft?

Identity theft is the fraudulent acquisition and use of an individual’s personal information for financial gain. The unique information typically associated with i theft includes dates of birth, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, email addresses, fax numbers, bank account information, and credit card numbers. When a thief obtains any of this type of information, he or she can then use it to impersonate the individual whose information was stolen. Luckily, victims of identity theft may be entitled to financial compensation via an identity theft lawsuit. If you are a victim of identity theft, please contact a consumer class action attorney for assistance. 

Liability for Identity Theft

In addition to the thief, there are several entities that can be held liable for identity theft. Entities that can be held liable for identity theft include the major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian), credit institutions, and banks. There are several theories of liability that victims of identity theft can utilize to seek compensation for their losses, including breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. To demonstrate negligence, an identity theft victim must show that 

  • the defendant owed him or her a duty of care,
  • the defendant breached that duty of care,
  • the defendant’s breach resulted in damages. 

An identity theft victim may also be sued for breach of fiduciary duty. A fiduciary duty exists when a party has a special relationship with another party, such as doctor-patient or attorney-client. Due to the nature of this relationship, the responsible party (the fiduciary) must take extra precautions regarding an individual’s personal information. If the fiduciary fails to protect this information, he or she may be held liable for any resulting losses. 

Additional theories of liability that may be available to identity theft victims include

  • invasion of privacy,
  • appropriation of a victim’s likeness or name, and
  • intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Financial Compensation for Identity Theft

There are several types of damages available to identity theft victims. Examples include compensatory damages (which compensate victims for monies lost as a result of identity theft), punitive damages (which are assessed to deter future wrongdoing), and equitable relief (which prohibits a defendant from performing some future act). 

Contact a Consumer Class Action Attorney Today! 

If you are a victim of identity theft, 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 an entity provides a party with unauthorized access to this information, whether intentionally or due to negligence, our attorneys will work hard to ensure that you are financially compensated for your loss. Our talented legal team has extensive litigation, investigative, and trial experience, which means that we understand what it takes to succeed in a consumer class action lawsuit. Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule a consultation.