Identity theft attorneys specialize in helping victims of fraud recover their stolen identities. An identity theft lawyer has the experience to walk victims through each step of the process, including communication with legal and financial institutions, and defense in court.
What is identity theft, and what exactly can an attorney do to help? Read on to find out.
What is identity theft?
“Identity theft” is a specific type of crime that involves the use of another individual’s personal information without their authority. It can manifest in many ways, from stealing mail to phishing scams.
In addition to affecting your emotional well-being, identity theft can have long-lasting consequences on your finances and credit score. It’s important to sign up for fraud protection services with credit and account monitoring that can help prevent fraud before it happens. These services can often support you if you do become a victim of fraud. That said, it’s also important to act the moment you suspect you’ve been defrauded, including:
- Calling your financial institutions to report the fraud and put a freeze on your accounts
- Reporting the fraud to any companies where your accounts have already been tampered with
- Reporting the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Filing a police report
How can an identity theft attorney help?
There are many types of lawyers, each with their own specialty. An identity theft attorney’s main priority will be to help you recover your stolen identity. Their experience dealing with legal and financial entities means they’ll be able to help the reporting go more smoothly. They also understand your financial institutions’ legal obligations in the event of identity theft.
If you’re having trouble disputing fraudulent activity on a credit card, for instance, your identity theft lawyer will act as a go-between. They’ll also prevent debt collection agencies from contacting you directly, shielding you from additional stress.
On top of all that, your attorney will inform you of your rights as a victim of identity theft. Depending on where you live, you may be able to obtain financial compensation for damage done by the theft, as well as time and money spent trying to rectify the situation. Your attorney may also be able to help you sue the perpetrator for additional restitution.
How to find the right lawyer for identity theft
If you ever find yourself in need of an identity theft attorney, there are several questions to keep in mind during your search.
1. What will be the breadth of your representation?
Not all attorneys offer the same scope of services. Some might only act as a liaison between you and your financial institutions. Others may prepare and file all the necessary paperwork for taking your case to court. Make sure you know exactly what your attorney is prepared to offer before committing to their representation.
2. How experienced is your attorney?
Experience may not be everything, but it’s important when finding the right legal help. Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective attorney about their history with identity theft. How many cases like yours have they handled? How many had a positive outcome?
3. When and how will they be compensated?
Some lawyers work for a flat hourly fee. Others might not charge you unless you successfully get restitution in court. They may also require an advanced deposit, called a retainer.
The most common type of retainer is a security retainer, which you pay as a deposit and which only goes to your attorney after they’ve worked on your case. Make sure you understand what type of compensation model your lawyer uses before signing them on.
You may also want to consider finding an identity theft attorney via legal insurance. This group benefit gives you immediate access to a network of lawyers and attorneys, including lawyers for identity theft, in exchange for a monthly premium. Ask your employer if they offer legal insurance as part of their benefits package.