Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft Are Still On The Rise. Here's What You Can Do.

Kellam T. Parks
Managing Member of Parks Zeigler, PLLC

Reports Of Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft Are Increasing

Credit card fraud and identity theft are still on the rise. According to the 2015 Javelin Strategy & Research Identify Fraud Study,  identity theft occurs every two seconds in the US. With the ever-increasing digital nature of our society, thieves are able to open new lines of credit in your name or create a new identity using your social security number and other personal information. Hackers are breaking into databases to steal your credit card information on a regular basis. Online retail stores are prone to these hacks, especially if they do not have an up-to-date secure website. Sometimes dishonest cashiers will use skimmers or switch out your credit card for a fake card that looks like yours. Thieves will try to place card skimmers on ATMs and gas pumps or take your bills from the mailbox. Some thieves will peruse the obituaries and then take advantage of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to get social security numbers. It is not just your credit that you need to be worried about. Think about how often you hand over your children’s information- at schools/daycares, doctor’s offices, sports teams, camps, etc. If those files are not handled properly, your children’s information could be stolen and misused.

What Do I Do If Someone Steals My Identity?

Even though Virginia changed laws involving identity theft by increasing the punishment if convicted, you will be stuck with damaged credit and the hassle of trying to repair that damage.  It is not as easy as just calling the bank or credit card company and telling them there’s a problem. It can take months or even years of effort to get the credit bureaus to change anything, even after you have proven the error or theft. One preventative step is to frequently monitor your credit and bank accounts so you can take action quickly  to prevent a small breach from becoming a major issue. There are three main credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can request a free credit report from each agency every 12 months. Should you need to report errors, make sure they are put in writing and sent by certified mail. This will help lay the groundwork for a lawsuit, should that become necessary. You will need to prove that you have done your due diligence every step of the way.

There are a few things you can do to help keep your credit safe:

  • Be vigilant in checking your credit card statements. 
  • Be careful about giving information out over the phone or by email and pay attention at the register. 
  • Don’t list full birthdates or addresses on social media sites such as Facebook.

Keep in mind that a debt collector is not generally concerned about your claim of identity theft, they have a job to do and they are coming after you for money.  You may be able to sort out small errors on your credit reports, but if you find you cannot get resolution to the problem, you will need an experienced attorney to fight for you. Call us at 757-426-4526, or simply click here. We will be happy to assist you.

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