Like anyone else, attorneys may be vulnerable to identity theft and may be the more targeted by virtue of the client property and information they hold in trust. To prevent identity theft, be a watchdog:
- Guard your financial information. Don’t give out your Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or any other personal or financial information to anyone you don’t know.
- Inspect your financial statements every month. Contact your financial institutions to investigate any unfamiliar or suspicious activity.
- Review your credit report for accuracy. The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to a free yearly copy from each major credit reporting company: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Send in an Annual Credit Report Request Form, available on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website, http://www.ftc.gov/, rather than requesting your report online (although if you need it ASAP, go to www.annualcreditreport.com).
- Be watchful for signs of unusual activity, such as: denials of credit for no apparent reason; unexpected credit cards or account statements; communications from debt collectors regarding debts you do not owe; calls, letters, or emails about purchases you did not make.
Even the best safeguards occasionally fall short, so if you are a victim of identity theft, take action:
- Create an Identity Theft Report by: (1) filing an Identity Theft Affidavit with the FTC online or by phone, and (2) filing a police report.
- Provide Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion with a copy of your Identity Theft Report, and ask them to place an Extended Fraud Victim Alert—good for seven years—on your credit file. Absent an Identity Theft Report, you can ask for an initial 90-day fraud alert.
- Inform your financial institutions and monitor your accounts.
Harmony Law Firm, PLLC