According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 7% of U.S. residents over the age of 16 report being victims of identity theft each year. That means thousands of people in Concord, Antioch, Pittsburg, Pinole, and Richmond are victims each year. Most victims became aware of the theft when notified by a financial institution or law enforcement agency. Stolen identities are most commonly used to obtain governmental benefits and/or credit cards. The majority of victims experience monetary losses under $100 and are able to resolve the issues in under 30 days. Of course, this number accounts for those who report being victims.
In my experience, many victims do not report identity theft because the offender is a spouse or relative of the victim. Often the victim does not want to cause trouble or fears some retribution if the theft is reported. Let’s be clear, use of your personal or financial information without your informed consent is identity theft. Consent can be given and later withdrawn. For example, in marriage, spouses often grant unfettered access to financial accounts and personal information; however, if the couple separates consent is usually withdrawn expressly or by implication. Often people come to me swamped with debts they did not incur assuming bankruptcy is the only answer. Bankruptcy forgives debts, but if you do not owe the money because the charges were incurred without your informed consent then a bankruptcy may not be necessary. The Federal Trade Commission has wonderful resources to help victims of identity theft. Many credit card lenders and some governmental agencies require only simple forms to remove fraudulent charges. Despite other potential options, bankruptcy is often used as a cost effective way to resolve identity theft.
At the Law Office of Michael Primus we have helped thousands of clients get out of debt, stop wage garnishments, and start fresh through bankruptcy. If you live in Contra Costa, Alameda or Solano counties and have debt problems, contact us for a free in-office consultation. We have offices in Walnut Creek, Antioch, and Hercules.