According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 7% of people over the age of 16 in the United States are victims of identity theft every year. While this may seem like a relatively small number, it is anything but small to those who fall victim to this terrible crime.
Five simple and effective ways to protect yourself against identity theft are:
- Create a number of strong passwords for your online accounts. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Never use your email password for banking and change all passwords every 30 to 60 days.
- Keep hard copies of financial documents secure. Do not throw sensitive financial documents in the trash. Shred anything that includes social security numbers, account numbers, or other personally identifying information.
- Check your credit report often. Look at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at least every six months to see if suspicious activity has occurred. If you notice things on your credit report that you suspect indicate fraud, contact our Chicago consumer protection attorneys immediately.
- Secure your mobile devices. If you use mobile devices for banking or similar uses, be sure to install security software and check for updates regularly.
- Do not answer suspicious emails. If you do not know a sender, do not open the email. If the contents of an email seem unusual or make requests for personal information, delete it right away.
These steps will help you avoid becoming the victim of identity theft, but what can you do when theft has already occurred?
Problems Caused by Identity Theft
Identity theft can ruin your life. Just one instance of identity theft can make it harder to secure a loan, interfere with job prospects, make buying a home or vehicle impossible, prevent you from getting credit cards, and cause insurance rates to rise. Identity theft can also impact your social security benefits, keep you or your children from securing financial aid for college, and even result in imprisonment. If you have been the victim of identity theft, you know that dealing with these and related issues is often slow and frustrating. It’s also not always successful. In some cases, identity theft can continue to make problems even years down the road.
The consumer protection lawyers at Markoff Leinberger understand how frightening and overwhelming it can be to realize you have had your identity stolen. We are prepared to investigate your case, identify corporate negligence or other sources of breach, and even work to identify the person or people who stole your identity. We can also assist in simplifying the process of restoring your identity and recovering from the potentially long-term consequences of this crime.
If you are in need of assistance following identity theft, please contact Markoff Leinberger online or by calling our Chicago office at (888) 517-9115 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help.