With the convenience of technology comes new risks as well. Although identity theft can occur without using the internet, it does make this crime easier to commit. Having your identity stolen can be very difficult, especially since you may not discover it until much later than it actually occurred. Identity theft is a crime under federal law, and most states also have laws making it illegal.
But, considering the negative effects of being the victim of identity theft -- such as damage to your credit or loss of money -- you may wonder if you're entitled to pursue a civil lawsuit against the offender(s). Well, some states actually allow identity theft victims to sue under their identity theft laws. But, even if your specific state doesn't include such a provision, you still may be able to sue if you've been the victim of identity theft.
Who Can You Sue and Under What Legal Theory?
Clearly, you can sue the thief, as he or she is the one responsible for your harm. However, it can be difficult to sue the thief because he or she may be hard to find. Plus, it's likely that thief will not have assets to recover if you're successful in a civil lawsuit. It may be possible, however, to sue others for their role in the identity theft.
For example, it may be possible to sue a credit bureau or business that disclosed your credit information. There are various legal theories that may apply in an identity theft case. Possible theories that a victim of identity theft could sue under include: negligence, invasion of privacy, breach of fiduciary duty, or infliction of emotional distress.
A Lawyer Can Be Very Helpful
Figuring out a legal theory to sue under can be difficult, especially since it can depend on the specific facts of your case. In addition, there are civil statute of limitations you need to be mindful of, as you don't want to miss the deadline for filing a lawsuit. For these reasons, it's very helpful to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with these legal theories, and civil procedure.
So, if you've been the victim of identity theft and are wondering if you can file a civil lawsuit, it's a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney who can review the facts of your case to determine who you may have a claim against and what legal theories may apply to your specific situation.