Virginia & Washington DC Identity Theft Lawyer
Identity Fraud Protection for Washington DC, Pennsylvania & Northern VA Residents
Identity theft is a serious crime that affects millions of victims each year. In many cases, individuals don’t realize they are a victim of identity theft until a credit report or loan application reveals a problem. If you have been a victim of identity theft, it’s important to work with a criminal defense attorney to clear your name, rather than jumping through hoops with your bank or credit card company to restore your credit on your own. At Blankingship & Christiano, P.C., our Virginia & Washington DC identity theft lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients recover from identity fraud and other credit reporting issues quickly and safely.
The Commonwealth of Virginia takes identity theft very seriously. In 1999, Virginia established a Computer Crime Section within the Virginia Office of the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute identity theft crimes committed via computer.
By 2006, there were several state laws including the Identity Theft Protection Act of 2003 to combat phishing, pharming, and other identity theft crimes, and provide stiff penalties for offenders.
What Is ID Theft?
ID theft involves the theft of private data. Criminals target your social security number, taxpayer ID, bank account number, and your date of birth, among other things. They can open lines of credit and purchase goods under your name. Fortunately, Blankingship & Christiano P.C. disputes these credit report errors.
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
Identity thieves steal your personal information, credit card numbers, or other financial information without your knowledge. You probably already know this occurs, yet might not know how to prevent it. You are not alone. According to Javelin, 13.1 million people were victims of identity theft in 2015.
Being educated about the different techniques used for identity theft will help protect you from potential dangers.
What Are the Consequences of ID Theft?
ID thieves open new lines of credit in your name and can steal millions from you. Beyond the financial blowback, most of our clients experience some degree of anxiety and paranoia as a result of the crime. In some cases, victims of ID theft can find themselves the recipient of an arrest warrant for a crime perpetrated by the ID thief.
What Should I Do If I Am a Victim of ID Theft?
Some warning signs include no longer receiving statements from your bank or other financial institutions and unauthorized or unfamiliar charges on your bank account. Once you’ve determined you’re a victim of ID theft in the Washington, DC-area, contact us immediately. We’ll get to work and resolve the credit report errors.
What kind of Identity theft methods are there?
Identity theft methods can range from elementary to technically complex, including:
- Stealing your wallet and using your credit cards
- Stealing your credit card mail and requesting a change of address to that of the identity thief
- Dumpster diving: stealing sensitive mail like convenience checks from your garbage
- Telemarketing: Using unscrupulous telemarketing schemes that get you to give them your personal information over the phone
- Skimming: using digital cameras or other devices to capture your credit card information
- Phishing: Tricking you into entering your personal information under the mistaken belief that you are answering an official email from your bank
- Pharming: Redirecting you from legitimate commercial websites to counterfeit web pages to trick your into disclosing financial and personal information
Which steps can I take to prevent ID theft?
Elaborate cyber-swindles, like pharming and phishing, can devastate thousands of people at once. Because we are all vulnerable to identity theft, we must take the following kinds of precautions to guard against becoming the next identity theft victim:
- Do not carry your social security number or print it on checks
- Shred any credit card mail and preapproved loan offers
- Order your credit report and review it for accuracy
- Go online to bank and credit card sites to check that you made all of the charges
- Do not reply to pop-up or spam messages on your computer or open attachments and downloads
- Only give personal information over the phone if you initiated the call or can verify that the number calling you is official
- Know what credit cards and IDs are in your wallet and notify the banks and police right away if your wallet is stolen
What can I do once I find out my identity has been stolen?
Identity theft is a very serious crime that merits decisive action, ideally by an experienced identity theft lawyer. The skilled Reston identity theft attorneys at Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. can provide you with identity theft help in Washington DC from credit report disputes to litigation in Northern Virginia. Each Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. identity theft attorney is knowledgeable about federal and state statutes prohibiting ID theft, and the best legal strategies for resolving even the most complicated cases.
While you can notify the three credit bureaus and banks on your own, when clients bring their issues to our skilled identity theft lawyers, we work hard to do effective damage control and produce satisfactory results.
Identity Theft Statistics
Many prominent agencies track the number of identity theft victims and the financial damage of this crime. Their studies and surveys find that identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States.
An Internet search on identity theft turns up many frightening statistics that document that identity theft fraud is in fact a growing national epidemic. Among the more alarming statistics on ID theft in Fairfax are the following:
- The Virginia Office of the Attorney General reported that in 2008, identity theft complaints made up 26% of all U.S. fraud complaints, and Virginia ranked 22nd in the nation for its number of identity theft victims.
- The Better Business Bureau said identity theft affected 8.9 million people in 2006.
- The Federal Trade Commission estimated that 8.3 million adults were identity theft victims in 2005, at a cost of $15.6 billion.
- The Identity Theft Resource Center estimated that the loss or theft of just one laptop can cost a company $90,000 or more in credit monitoring for victims, public relations damage control as well as class action litigation.
- A Zogby study said 83% of Americans are worried their personal information will wind up in the hands of a third party.
Know your rights: Beware Fraud Package Document Requests
Many banks and other financial institutions try to place the burden of proof regarding identity theft and fraud on the consumer. However, your consumer rights dictate that your bank must remove fraudulent charges unless they can prove you were responsible for them. In order to protect your rights, never try to handle this burden of proof on your own—instead, contact an experienced Fairfax identity fraud lawyer to help you. Until you have met with your identity theft lawyer, beware requests from any bank or lender for documents used in fraud packages, such as:
- Any police reports you’ve filed regarding your identity theft.
- A Federal Trade Commission affidavit.
- Proof of address.
- Your current lease agreement.
- Your most recent utility bills.
- Your social security number.
- A copy of your driver’s license.
Most Serious Types of Identity Theft
Identity theft is an umbrella term that covers the theft of personal information including your name, your birthdate, your social security number, your address, your bank account information, and much more. Thieves may have many motives, meaning everyone is a potential target for identity theft, regardless of age or financial status. Our identity theft attorneys at Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. are on your side to help you manage identity theft and its repercussions. Call an identity fraud lawyer today at (571) 313-0412 for more information from a consumer advocate. A criminal defense attorney from Blankingship & Christiano P.C. will help resolve any identity fraud issues that you are facing.
- Your social security number allows thieves to commit many types of fraud, from stealing insurance and social security benefits to committing tax fraud in your name.
- Identity theft can result in false arrests and serious charges that can leave you without your freedom for days and affect your career, your insurance benefits, and your social or family life, even if these charges are dropped.
- Child identity theft is common and can affect the victims for decades after the fact. Even after your name has been cleared, your credit report may still contain evidence of fraud, making it difficult or impossible to obtain a loan or a mortgage.
Tips To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Identity theft may be a faceless crime, but that doesn’t mean it’s a victimless crime. By the time you become aware that your identity was stolen, the damage to your credit score is already done. Not only will you find yourself responsible for credit card charges you didn’t make, but you may also have difficulty obtaining mortgages, car loans, and other financing. An identity theft lawyer can help you take legal action to resolve the crimes committed against you. To reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, follow the tips below:
Protect Your PIN
Never write your personal identification number (PIN) on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your wallet. When entering your PIN at an ATM or pay phone, use your free hand to shield the keypad to prevent “shoulder surfers” from obtaining your PIN.
Keep Your Receipts
Get in the habit of keeping receipts for all purchases made with your credit or debit card. Ask for incorrect charge slips as well. Promptly compare these receipts with billing and account statements each month. If you notice unauthorized or incorrect transactions, contact your bank or credit company right away to report fraudulent activity on your account. If your bank or credit provider refuses to remove the charges, contact a Leesburg fraud attorney to seek restitution.
Be Careful Online
Be extra cautious when shopping online, especially if you are using a public computer or purchasing from an unfamiliar website. Also be on the lookout for phishing emails and websites, which attempt to solicit personal information that can be used to steal your identity.
Monitor Your Credit Report
Check your credit report once per year and look for any errors or unauthorized purchases made in the past 12 months. If you suspect someone has gotten access to your account information, check your credit report more frequently. You may need to hire a consumer protection law firm to oversee your credit report dispute and restore your credit score following identity theft.
The state of Virginia offers a downloadable guide called “How to Avoid Identity Theft.”.
It includes a list of public resources, an ID Theft Affidavit form, and other identity theft help in Alexandria. Here are some of the useful tips this guide gives Virginia citizens to protect against identity theft:
- Check your online accounts regularly for any suspicious activity
- Keep separate passwords for each online account
- Monitor your credit report for fraudulent activity
- Never disclose financial or personal information in response to an unsolicited email regardless of who sent it
- Never click on a link embedded in an unsolicited email regardless of who sent it
- Verify the authenticity of a website before entering financial or personal information via that website by checking the VeriSign or other certificates of authority
- Install a locked mailbox at your residence to reduce mail theft
- Shred credit card and loan mail before putting it in the trash
- Never put social security, driver license, or credit card numbers on your checks
- Reduce the credit cards you carry to the bare minimum
- Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call
Leveraging powerful identity theft laws
At Blankingship & Christiano, P.C., we have skilled identity theft attorneys ready to combat identity theft fraud in Alexandria and provide the legal help you need. While you can dispute a fraudulent charge yourself, you would be well-advised to retain a skilled identity theft lawyer that can assist you with identity theft in Fairfax to ensure corrections are made in a timely manner to your credit file.
Our attorneys are knowledgeable about identity theft laws, and do not hesitate to take aggressive legal action such as litigation when required. We can advise you of your rights and options under federal and state identity theft law in Reston and Fairfax identity theft.
Contact An Experienced Virginia & Washington DC Identity Theft Lawyer
Statistics also show that a significant percentage of identity theft fraud cases involve close friends or relatives, and victims are reluctant to press charges against their loved ones.
Also at a time when most companies and government offices keep the personal information of millions of people in their databases—and most financial transactions are done electronically—it is extremely difficult to police this sensitive data. In the event of massive data breaches, an identity theft lawyer in Fairfax can sue on behalf of all the victims as part of a class action lawsuit.
At Blankingship & Christiano, P.C., we have lawyers ready to provide the legal help you need for identity theft throughout Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. While you can dispute a fraudulent charge yourself, a skilled identity theft lawyer can ensure that corrections are made to your credit file promptly.
If you are an identity theft victim, you are entitled to challenge inaccurate, misleading, or incomplete information appearing on your credit report. Our Virginia & Washington DC identity theft lawyers are experienced at assisting consumers with inaccurate credit reports and do not hesitate to take aggressive legal action—such as suing the credit bureaus and creditors—to ensure that disputed information is corrected on your credit report in a timely manner.
If you are looking for qualified identity theft law firm, please contact Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. at (571) 313-0412 or online to discuss your case.