Identity Fraud: How a PI can Help
- February 05, 2018
- by Stephanie Irvine
As tax season is upon us, unscrupulous individuals may attempt to steal your identity in order to get your tax refund or even a job. This issue is so big that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) even created a Tax Identity Awareness Week from January 29th — February 2, 2018 to help raise awareness to this growing problem. But stealing your social security number to receive a tax refund is just one of the ways in which identity thieves steal and use your identity.
Identity theft is becoming more prevalent in the United States — with a record number of victims in 2016, the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. As our identities become more accessible to thieves, we have to work harder to protect them. In the event that you become a victim, it can become even more difficult to track the criminals down.
When we last highlighted this issue, we identified five other types of identity theft: criminal identity theft, which occurs when a criminal uses another identity to evade charges; financial identity theft, the most common type, which occurs when someone uses your identity to access and use your money; identity cloning, which occurs when a person assumes your identity to conceal their own; medical identity theft, which occurs when someone uses your insurance benefits to access healthcare for themselves; and child identity theft, which happens when someone uses a minor’s identity for personal gain. No matter what type of identity theft is committed, they are all serious crimes.
Has your Identity Been Stolen?
If you’re concerned that your identity or any personally identifiable information has been compromised, it may be helpful to consult a private investigator. A private investigator can help determine if your identity has, in fact, been stolen, and they can help figure out for what purpose.
However, if you suspect identity theft, before you hire an investigator, you must make reports to every applicable agency where you believe fraud has occurred. This could include your bank, credit card companies, etc. You will also want to place a fraud alert with your credit reporting agencies so that in the event your credit is harmed by the event, you do not personally suffer from it.
Furthermore, you will want to report the crime to not only the FTC but to your local law enforcement. Even if you intend on hiring a private investigator, making a timely police report is important. The FTC provides a helpful checklist that you can use to get the ball rolling.
Who to Hire
From there, hiring a private detective can be crucial in getting your case solved. A private detective can give you the personalized attention that simply may not be possible from a detective in your area. For example, if you live in a small town, your police department may not even have a detective on their local force who can handle your case. Hiring a private detective ensures that you have someone working for you so that you have a better chance at having the person responsible for stealing your identity is held responsible. Keep in mind that according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, most cases do not end in arrest, despite valiant efforts by police investigators.
It’s important to find a qualified and licensed private investigator (if required in your state) so that you aren’t duped again by someone with poor intentions. You are at a vulnerable point if your identity has been compromised or stolen, so it’s important not to take any further chances.
In this day and age, most private investigators are familiar with this type of work — and some even specialize in it. You can easily find a prescreened private detective nearby with a quick search of our directory.
Understanding What Happened
A private investigator can help you find out who committed the crime and how they did it. Once found, you can pursue punitive damages legally and/or a criminal complaint. This can give you peace of mind, and it can help you recover lost funds.
Additionally, once you know what happened and how, you can better protect yourself by taking preventative measures that will ensure your identity won’t be stolen again.
Recovery from Identity Theft
Recovering from identity theft can be a long process, but it is possible. The FTC estimates that more than 200 hours are spent over 18 months trying to resolve identity theft cases.
The emotional toll may be significant, so don’t be afraid to contact a counselor to help work through the feelings of distrust, vulnerability, anger, resentment, and betrayal, among others, that you may be feeling. It’s imperative that you keep your mental health a priority.
It can also take time for your credit to recover, and before things are resolved, you may be faced with frustrating hassles when you want to make a purchase and uncertainty of your financial stability. Know that these events will be temporary, as once your identity is restored, you’ll be able to get back to living your life — you’ll just have the experience to be more cautious with your identity in the future.
Need an Investigator?
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft and are interested in retaining a private investigator to help solve your case, you’ve come to the right place. Search our directory of talented private detectives here or give us a call at (888) 997-4669, and we can get you connected with a qualified, prescreened detective today.