It seems that although there are more consumer protections available to guard against identity theft, such the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), the crime of identity theft and fraud continues to rise. One reason this may be the case is the misconception that identity theft is a victimless crime. This is one among several misconceptions people have about the crime; which, if put to rest may help consumers be more proactive about guarding their identities and reducing instances of theft.
Below, we dispel some of the lesser known myths about identity theft in the hopes that consumers will take more precautions and take action against the entities that facilitated the theft through the help of consumer protection attorneys.
Myth 1: Identity Theft is Victimless
A significant portion of consumers and thieves believe that identity theft is a victimless crime. If you use a credit card, you may assume that the credit card company will quickly take off a disputed charge; or, if you use a debit card, you might think your bank will reimburse you for the charges you didn’t make. This isn’t always true- in reality, it takes the average victim an average of $500 and 30 hours of work to resolve an identity theft crime. It also takes an average of 30 days for a credit card company to acknowledge a disputed charge.
Myth #2: Most Identity Thefts Occur Online
Although an identity thief may find it simple to use your information online once he has it, the majority of crimes occur offline. Credit cards can be found in lost or stolen wallets, cards can get skimmed at the gas station or even your favorite restaurant, and mail containing sensitive information can be stolen right from your mailbox. These take place every day, putting consumers at risk.
Myth #3: I would know if my ID was stolen
Not so fast there! It takes some intelligence and wit to be a successful identity thief. Most thieves know that you check your statement monthly and your credit report at least once a year. If there is a large public data breach, they know that you receive a free credit report afterward. They will wait 365 days before using information they picked up. They will also open accounts in your name that you know nothing about, damaging your credit score and incurring debt under your name that you cannot track from a glance at your monthly statements. Experts recommend reviewing your credit score as frequently as every 4 months to really be on top.
Myth #4: Thieves don’t know their victims
Perhaps one of the most unknown facts about identity theft is that, in many cases, thieves do know their victims well. Medical ID theft is one of the more common crimes in Florida; an ID thief could be a relative under your insurance policy who seeks care in your name. It can be parents using their child’s information to get out of a jam because the child has a clean credit score. Elderly people who have a vast network of family and caregivers are also among the most vulnerable victims.
Myth #5: Social Media is Safe to Use
On the surface, you may not realize just how social media can influence whether you become a victim of theft. Anybody who can see your full profile may see your status updates, photos, and connections. If you post vacation photos, it could tip off a thief that you are out of town, incentivizing him to break into your home or steal from your mailbox. If you are connected to your mother, a mother’s maiden name is one of the most common security questions. That plus your email address may allow a thief access into an account online. You can never be too careful with any personal information; social media best practices encourage you to use the strictest privacy settings available.
Under FACTA, it is illegal for your credit or debit card information to be printed in full on a paper receipt that has been printed electronically. This is one step merchants take to keep you safe; however, several retailers have violated this law. If you have had your personal information exposed at a point of sale, you may be entitled to statutory damages under FACTA. Talk to Jibrael S. Hindi and his team of FACTA attorneys in South Florida to discuss your case. Call (844) JIBRAEL for a free and confidential consultation. You do not pay a dime until Jibrael and his team win for you!