IDENTITY THEFT – DON’T BECOME A VICTIM

identity theft illustration
Photo cred: https://www.debt.org/credit/identity-theft/

There is an app for almost everything – grocery shopping  – pet sitting  – tracking steps you have taken and storing your heart rate information – so much of our private information is at the mercy of third parties. We just hope that their security measures are enough to stop hackers. But it’s not always enough to prevent identify theft. Identity theft is more prominent than ever before.

Recently, an app that pays you for not texting and driving was the source of information for an identity thief for a sixteen year old child. The allure of the app for her was that it reportedly pays five (5) cents per mile for not texting while driving, and two (2) cents per mile that the driver does not text and drive for the passengers. [1]  The app targets primarily teenagers and young adults ages 16-25.[2] Cash for being safe is great motivator for teens. They need the money and assume their parents would agree this is a good idea. However, this is not always the case!

This teen signed up on the app (in like two minutes flat!) and she quickly discovered that her license was already in use.  She had become a victim of identity theft.  Her information was already being used on the app to earn someone else money using her name and drivers’ license number. Yikes!

How should this teenager and her parents handle this breach of her identity?

Thankfully, there are several things that should be done in a timely manner. First, a cease and desist letter must be sent to the company that runs the app. Whether hiring a lawyer to handle this depends on your level of comfort and need for one. Second, contact the credit reporting agencies to notify them of the problem. Third, consider signing up for a paid identify protection service such as Identity Guard, Identity Defense, myFico, LifeLock, etc.3

Victims of identity theft also have protections under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. 4 The Act makes it a crime, under certain circumstances, for a person to knowingly and without lawful authority produce an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document; or knowingly possess an identification document (other than one issued lawfully for the use of the possessor), authentication feature, or a false identification document, with the intent that the document or feature be used to defraud the United States.

The section of the Act that would pertain more to the app in this particular scenario states “It is also a crime if a person knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, or in connection with, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law or knowingly traffics in false authentication features for use in false identification documents, document-making implements, or means of identification”.  The app in this case “transferred, without lawful authority, a means of identifications of another person in connection with unlawful activity” and, as the statutory language tells us, this violates federal and local law.4

There are many other ways to reduce the risk of identity theft. Here are some ways to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft: 5

  • Do not give out personal information to anyone. Confirm who they are first
  • Avoid clicking links online you’re unsure about
  • Shred documents with any personal/banking information on it
  • Don’t keep your social security card on you, it could get stolen along with your wallet/purse
  • Only carry credit cards you use on a daily basis
  • Protect your mailbox and where your packages are delivered. You can get extra protection through the deliverer/carrier.
  • Monitor your online accounts with any personal/sensitive information on them
  • Create strong/creative passwords online
  • Use two factor authentication (requires second piece of proof of identification)
  • Avoid using public Wi-fi when dealing with sensitive information
  • Check your credit report regularly and check for suspicious activity
  • Cut up old credit cards
  • Only shop online with trusted sites and consider using Paypal or another secure payment system
  • Don’t over-share on social network
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited requests
  • Consider freezing or locking your credit
  • Monitor all your billing cycles
  • Implement biometric options (fingerprint, handprint, eye scan, facial recognition)
  • Keep up with latest in identity theft, educate yourself
  • Consider an identity theft protection service

What Should You Do If You Have Your Driver’s License Stolen?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Immediately contact police to report the theft.
  • Contact the DMV to report the stolen license. They will tell you how to proceed to replace your license and what to do about driving until it is replaced.
  • Put a freeze on your credit. Your driver’s license number plus all the other information on the license provides enough information for a thief to open accounts in your name.
  • Continue to monitor your accounts. That includes requesting a copy of your official driving record to make sure a thief did not use your driver’s license number to cover their traffic violations and signing up for a background check (the police or your bank should be able to recommend a reputable company). Do this periodically to make sure all is clear.
  • Change the locks on your doors (after all, since they have your license, they have your address).

For more information on identity theft and credit reporting issues, click the link below to check out our discussion with attorney Whitney Seals.  http://bit.ly/33MTiTU

 

As we have since 1967, we will continue to protect the legal rights of our clients – those who are hurt on the job while working for Alabama employers.  If you have been injured on the job and want to learn your rights, please consider contacting the Nomberg Law Firm. Our office number is 205-930-6900 and website www.NombergLaw.com. Our office is located in Birmingham, Alabama. We handle cases throughout our great State.

 

Sources:

[1] https://onmyway.com/blog/

[2] https://onmyway.com/blog/

[3]  https://www.reviews.com/identity-theft-protection-services/

4 http://bit.ly/2q8CPuo

[5]§ 22:2.Federal Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, Info. Security & Privacy: A Guide to Fed & State Law & Compliance § 22:2

 


Bernard D. Nomberg has been a lawyer for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. In 2018, Bernard was named a Super Lawyer for the 6th year in a row and he was recognized as one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Alabama.

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