Client sitting with class action attorney

Phishing Attacks and Identity Theft

A phishing attack is an online scam in which a fraudster sends an email that appears to be from a reputable source with the goal extracting personal information from the target. Once such information is obtained, criminals use it in several ways, one of which is to commit identity theft. In this article, we examine phishing attacks and identity theft. 

Identifying Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks share several characteristics. Some of the telltale signs of phishing attacks include: 

The email requests sensitive information: Companies don’t send customers emails requesting passwords, credit card data, or other personal information. Therefore, the receipt of an email that requests such information is a sign that a phishing attack may be underway.

The email is poorly written: Another sign that an email may actually be a phishing attack is if it is poorly written. It is rare for a legitimate organization to send out an email that contains bad grammar and poor punctuation. 

The email contains a suspicious attachment: Phishing attacks are often conducted with the assistance of malicious email attachments. Fraudsters use such attachments to install viruses on victims’ computers and to direct them to URLs that mimic the websites of legitimate organizations. 

The email incites fear: One characteristic of many phishing scams is that they attempt to create a sense of urgency on the part of the recipient. Often, this is done by inciting fear. For example, a phishing email may claim that a recipient’s bank account will be closed if he or she fails to click on a link or provide certain information. 

The email claims the recipient won something: One way that fraudsters attempt to steal information through phishing emails is by promising an award or prize of some sort. Therefore, any message that purports to offer something for free should always be viewed with suspicion. 

The email claims to be from a government agency: Finally, the government doesn’t generally contact people directly. In addition, government agencies don’t request information via email. Unfortunately, however, phishing scammers often claim to be government agencies in an attempt to solicit personal information from victims. 

Protecting Yourself from Phishing Attacks

In addition to recognizing the above common signs, the following actions can provide protection from phishing attacks:

  • Install security software on your computer
  • Schedule automatic software updates
  • Enable multi-factor authentication
  • Back up all data on your devices

Contact a Consumer Class Action Lawyer 

In addition to directly targeting victims, phishing attacks are often directed at organizations that store people’s personal information. And when an entity releases people’s private information without their permission, it should be forced to compensate those who suffer losses as a result. If your personal information has been exposed, experienced attorney Seth Lehrman is here to help you seek compensation. Please contact us today to schedule an a free consultation with our experienced class action lawyer.

Woman victim of identity theft

Identity Theft and the Elderly

The number of identity theft victims in the U.S. increases every year. Unfortunately, a large percentage of victims are elderly. In this article, we examine why the elderly are vulnerable to identity theft, common identity theft scams perpetrated against the elderly, and ways to prevent identity theft. 

Reasons Identity Thieves Target the Elderly 

There are several reasons that identity thieves target the elderly. For example, in a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, elderly participants were found to be more trustworthy than other age groups. This trustworthiness can make the elderly more vulnerable than others to becoming victims of identity theft. Also, in a study at the University of California, Los Angeles, older adults were found to have diminished “gut responses” to cues of untrustworthiness. 

Common Identity Theft Scams That Target the Elderly

Common identity theft scams that target the elderly include:

Telephone scams: Identity thieves often target the elderly over the telephone, attempting to gain their trust and obtain personal and financial data from them that can be used to commit fraud. To obtain such information, thieves may pretend to be a person in authority, and they may employ a sense of urgency that prompts the victim to move quickly without taking time to contemplate the consequences.

Internet scams: Online identity thieves often use phishing techniques to obtain personal data via email. With these scams, thieves send seemingly legitimate requests for personal information to victims. Often, when committing these scams, thieves claim to be associated with legitimate financial institutions. 

Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

Seniors must always remain vigilant when it comes to identity theft. Below are some helpful identity theft prevention tips: 

Just hang up: If someone calls and requests personal or financial information, it’s perfectly acceptable to just hang up. If the person claims to be a bank or credit card representative, hang up and call back using the organization’s listed phone number.

Don’t click on links: Rather than clicking on links received in emails, type in web addresses manually. Often, such links lead to phishing sites that illegally collect personal information.  

Use direct deposit: One downside to paper checks is that they can easily be stolen and used in the commission of identity theft. Therefore, if the option is available, it is advisable to opt for direct deposit over paper checks. 

Review all statements: Finally, it pays to regularly review all credit card, bank, and other financial statements. When doing so, be on the lookout for unfamiliar transactions. If anything looks unfamiliar, immediately contact the applicable institution to investigate

Contact a Consumer Class Action Lawyer 

Often, identity theft is the result of the negligence of a financial institution or other entity. When an entity releases people’s private information without their permission, whether purposely or due to negligence, it should be forced to compensate the victims for any resulting losses. If you are a victim of identity theft, experienced attorney Seth Lehrman is here to help you seek financial compensation for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with our talented class action lawyer.

An attorney helping a couple with their class action lawsuit.

Over 42 Million People Affected by Identity Theft in 2021

Identity theft is a major problem in the United States. In fact, a recent report by Javelin reveals that this illicit practice is more prevalent than ever. Specifically, in 2021, nearly 42 million Americans were victims of identity theft, costing consumers over $50 billion in total losses. This represents an increase in fraud of nearly 80 percent over 2020. Experts believe that this increase was at least partially caused by thieves’ eagerness to capitalize on the billions of dollars in stimulus funds that many people obtained in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Traditional Identity Fraud Up in 2021

In 2021, losses caused by traditional identity fraud, which Javelin defines as the unauthorized use of another’s personal information to achieve illicit financial gain, increased by nearly 80 percent over 2020. Surprisingly, many victims of identity fraud never find out when or how their personal information was compromised.

Identity Theft Scams

The report differentiates traditional identity fraud from identity fraud scams. Unlike traditional identity fraud, in which victims often remain unaware of how their information was compromised, identity fraud scams happen when a thief deceives someone into giving away some of their personal information, either through email, phone calls, text messages or some other manner. As opposed to traditional identity fraud, identity fraud scams decreased in 2021, with 12 million fewer victims of such scams in 2021. However, with a total of 27 million victims losing approximately $28 billion combined, identity fraud scams continue to be a huge problem.

Together, these two types of identity fraud—traditional identity fraud and identity fraud scams—cost 42 million victims approximately $52 billion in losses in 2021.

Additional Statistics

Additional noteworthy statistics from the report include:  

  • Fraud involving existing credit cards increased by nearly 70 percent. 
  • Fraudulent charges involving existing credit cards cost consumers over $9 billion.
  • Seventy percent of respondents to a survey associated with the report stated that they trust facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, and retinal scanning to combat fraud. 
  • Consumers spent around 16 hours on average disputing charges on fake accounts. 
  • Identity fraud in which identity thieves opened a new account using a person’s personal information affected approximately 5 million victims and totaled nearly $7 billion in losses.
  • Identity fraud involving existing savings, checking, insurance and other accounts totaled around $8 billion, which represents a 73 percent increase from 2020.

Contact a Consumer Class Action Lawyer 

Identity theft occurs for many reasons, one of which is negligence on the part of organizations that store your personal information. If you believe that the negligence of a financial institution or other entity has resulted in the theft of your identity, experienced attorney Seth Lehrman is here to help you seek financial compensation for your losses. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with our talented class action lawyer.

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.

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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.

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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.