Identity Theft Lawyers in Santa Ana
Every time you engage in a financial transaction, provide anyone with personal data, visit a website, open an email, or even use your laptop, there is the risk that someone is out there trying to steal your personal information for wrongful gain. We have to go about our lives, but we do so with the inevitable risk that we might become the victims of identity theft.
When someone uses your information or assumes your identity, it can wrongfully benefit them and cause significant harm to you and your financial situation. Identity theft is not only morally wrong, but it is a criminal offense and can severely impact your financial well-being. While the criminal justice system can seek criminal penalties against the offender, it is not enough to resolve the mess that identity theft leaves in its wake. You need a law firm that knows how to protect you from liability and future issues following this type of experience.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, reach out to our team at HN Injury Lawyers. Our Santa Ana identity theft lawyers stand up for victims of identity theft and financial harm. We know how to help you put the pieces back together and exercise your rights under the law. Contact our office today at (657) 333-5726 to learn how we can help.
Many people become victims of identity theft before they even realize they were at risk. Identity theft is a criminal offense under California Penal Code 530.5 that involves misappropriating someone else’s personal information and using it for an unlawful purpose. Due to the impact on banks and other major industries, it is also a federal crime and heavily prosecuted in criminal courts to punish any offender.
When a criminal commits identity theft, their goal is to acquire other people’s personal information and then to use it illegal. The most common type of information stolen from California residents includes:
- Legal names
- Social Security number
- Social media accounts
- Usernames or passwords
- Financial account numbers
- Phone numbers
- Driver’s license information
- Passport information
With enough personal information, a criminal may be able to:
- Apply for credit or a loan in your name
- Withdraw money from your bank accounts
- Use your credit cards
- Make purchases in your name
- Commit another criminal act that you are blamed for
- Access your medical records or other personal information
Many people do not know they have been victimized until significant damage has been done. You may not even notice until you try to make a purchase and your card is declined or get a statement from your bank. Financial organizations can notify you the moment they notice fraudulent charges, but there are ways you can spot it early and move to protect your information before it causes significant damage:
- Carefully review all bank and credit statements for unexplained charges
- Always confirm who you are interacting with online or over the phone, especially if you are sharing sensitive information via emails, social media, or apps
- Keep track of your online accounts and where your information is being shared
- Install a VPN or security software to monitor your online activity and warn you of viruses, data breaches, and unknown users on your network
The California Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Office reports that about 12.7 million adults in the United States were the victims of identity theft in a single year. This includes 1.5 million adults in California alone. Anyone can be the victim of identity theft, including business owners, hard-working adults, senior adults, wealthy celebrities, and even children.
Thieves use different scams and tactics to target different demographics. For example, older adults are often targeted for identity theft through phone or email scams that trick them into sharing important financial information. Young adults and children can also be victims of identity theft through social media, where hackers can gain access to important personal details.
Identity theft can occur due to:
- Data Breaches: A large amount of consumer information is stored online nowadays by big companies. If a hacker breaches a company’s servers, then they can download that information and either hold it for ransom or use it to commit identity theft. Examples of recent breaches include Socialarks, which led to the release of over 214 million Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin users; Microsoft, where the email accounts of at least 30,000 organizations were hacked; and Zoom, where over 500,000 accounts were breached, resulting in users’ information being sold online.
- Phishing Schemes: A phishing scheme is a situation where a criminal tricks a user into sharing personal information, such as credit card information or social security numbers, through an email, call, social media, app, or text message. Older adults are particularly at risk for phishing schemes.
- Public Internet Connections: Millions of internet users in the country use public Wi-Fi at local cafes, restaurants, and bars to get online. Public networks present a high risk of someone else on the network hacking into other user’s phones or laptops to gain personal information. Given how many people use public networks while working remotely, there is a risk of a company’s private records being leaked as well. Using a VPN can limit the risk of a hacker accessing your information, whether you are on a private or public network.
No matter how identity theft occurs or the goals of the thief, it can leave victims with a huge and costly mess.
Identity theft is a costly offense, and California DOJ reported that individuals and businesses lost about $16 million in one year due to this type of fraud. Identity theft can wreak havoc on your finances and reputation, including:
- Obtaining your credit card or credit card number and using to make false purchases
- Using your information on a credit card or auto loan application
- Giving your identifying information to a police officer so a citation would be in your name
- Creating false accounts in your name, including financial accounts and social media profiles
- Obtaining medical services and filing insurance claims against your policy
- Reducing your credit score
- Draining your bank accounts
- Lawsuits filed against you by businesses or creditors
- Creating a criminal record in your name
While children do not have credit histories, the expansion of social media to younger generations has increased the risk of them being victims of identity theft. Criminals may attempt to gain access to your children’s social security information in order to take out credit in their names, which can seriously damage their financial future and reputation. Since children do not traditionally have credit and thus are not monitored as closely as adults, a parent may not realize their child’s identity has been stolen until a creditor comes knocking.
While California consumer laws provide protections for victims of identity theft, you might spend hours trying to sort everything out, and it can take months or years to get your finances back on track. It is important to seek help from an identity theft lawyer in Orange County who knows how to protect your rights and help you overcome the damage you incurred from identity theft.
Some identity thieves are never caught and, even if they are arrested and charged, the criminal courts are focused on punishing the offender and less so on compensating the victim. While the criminal court might order the offender to pay restitution, the amount often pales in comparison to the time and money you lose as a victim, and you might not see a dime if the offender fails to pay.
Fortunately, the experienced attorneys at HN Injury Lawyers know how to help identity theft victims recover for all of their losses. We can help in several ways, including the following:
Stopping the Attack on Your Life
We know how to stop identity theft from continuing to ruin your finances and impact other aspects of your life. We can help communicate with the credit bureaus and your creditors, defend against current lawsuits, and much more. The sooner we can stop the damage, the less work there will be ahead of you. You also have a duty to mitigate the damage if you plan to file a legal claim against the offenders, so taking all necessary steps is time-consuming yet critical.
Identity Theft Litigation
Even if you are in communication with your creditors, debt collectors, banks, and other entities, there can be damage from identity theft that you cannot repair without further legal action. Under California Civil Code 1798.83, a victim of identity theft can file a claim in civil court against the responsible parties. This might include claims against the identity thieves themselves or a company that allowed your personal information to be compromised.
The litigation process is complex, and you will need to present many types of evidence of identity theft. Our attorneys understand what this type of case entails, and we will take all steps necessary to obtain full compensation for your losses.
Compensation for identity theft can include:
- Out-of-pocket expenses due to identity theft
- Damage to your credit score and spending limits
- Emotional distress
- Injury to your reputation
- Punitive damages from a criminal court
At HN Injury Lawyers, we handle identity theft claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no up-front costs for hiring us to represent you in a claim or lawsuit. We will handle all of the costs of investigating and litigating your case. We include our fees on top of the damage you have suffered and are only paid if you claim is successful. We do not get paid unless you do.
When someone assumes your identity in order to benefit themselves, you are a victim of criminal activity. You need a law firm that knows the laws that can protect you from the liability and exposure that identity theft subjects you to. Santa Ana-based HN Injury Lawyers is a law firm that has the experience necessary to protect you from the damage of having your identity stolen. You don’t have the time to allow an inexperienced firm to toy with your situation. Your answers are with HN Injury Lawyers.
At HN Injury Lawyers, we know that no one wants to deal with the aftermath of costly identity theft. However, it is important to take swift action to minimize the damage and recover for your losses. Our Santa Ana business litigation attorneys are here to provide around the clock assistance for people concerned about identity theft and its effects. Contact us online or call (657) 333-5726 at any time for more information about your rights and options.