Identity theft occurs when another person fraudulently makes use of another individual’s name and personal information for personal gain; most often financial gain in the form of credit cards and loans.
Obtaining the personal information of a potential victim varies in difficulty based on the level of precautions they have taken to safeguard their information.
Federal and state laws demand that third party entities must safeguard the personal information they handle on behalf of a consumer; or risk severe consequences.
Can you hold a company responsible?
In most situations, criminals who successfully infiltrate and steal information do so anonymously. This may cause victims of identity theft to wonder who can be held responsible for the damages they have suffered through no fault of their own.
The victim may seek compensation from the third-party entity which had been entrusted with the private information as provided for in federal and state law. This includes any business that had possession of and may be responsible for the stolen information.
It remains important to take immediate action once any suspicious transactions have taken place.
What can be recovered by suing a company?
When suing a company for allowing identity theft the victim may be able to sue in civil court and potentially recover;
- Compensatory damages: This is the most common type of damages award issued and will cover financial losses caused by the crime.
- Punitive damages: In rare and extraordinary instances of identity theft, a victim may be able to claim punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to both provide the victim with additional monies, and to punish and deter the defendant from committing future offenses.
- Emotional damages: If the victim suffered emotional distress (e.g. anxiety) due to the theft, they may be able to recover emotional damages. However, it is often very difficult to obtain these damages.
- Injunctive relief: Injunctions are court orders that require a defendant to take or refrain from a certain action. For identity theft purposes, the court may order the defendant to apologize, notify persons about the data exposure, and possibly release the victim from financial liability of debts they did not cause.
What can be recovered will ultimately rely on the type of information that was stolen during the breach, the extent of the damages, and the degree of negligence or failure of responsibility leading to the breach by the company.
Compensation will depend on the various legal procedures and framework governing the form of identity theft, and how well one can present evidence that meets the burden of proof.
Do I need an attorney?
Considering how the specific facts of the case apply to the relevant federal and state laws can be a burden for most victims of identity theft.
Most companies will employ the services of a legal firm to represent them to minimize potential damages, or ensure that the case is completely overturned. Going up against these lawyers is no easy task. Consulting a lawyer could benefit you when the case is judged.
It would be very helpful to consult a lawyer who is familiar with the legal theories and civil procedures associated with identity theft. This ensures your case is argued by someone capable of obtaining the fairest compensation without overburdening yourself with trying to understand the legal requirements of your case.
When identity theft takes place through a third party and the perpetrator can’t be located, or is unable to compensate for the damages due to a poor economical standing; the victim of identity theft could have the right to claim damages against the company.
Compensation can be influenced by federal and state laws, the terms and conditions agreed to when entering into a relationship with a company, the nature of the information, and the degree to which a company is found negligent.
Consulting an attorney with the specialized knowledge, training, and experience to argue your case could be the advantage you need to protect your case from being rejected and secure an award in damages that you deserve.