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    What can I do if I am the victim of identity theft? Ask the Lawyer
    • October 10, 2023

    Q: Never thought this would happen to me. Someone somehow got my Social Security number, obtained a credit card and charged items on it. I found out when the bill came. Now what?

    A.S., Torrance

    Ron Sokol

    A: If an identity thief steals your SSN, he or she may use it to apply for a credit card or loan, and also seek to receive medical, disability and other benefits.

    There are a number of steps you can take, not the least of which is reporting the matter to law enforcement right away, and to the Federal Trade Commission (with regard to the FTC, see the information at the end of this column).

    In addition, place a fraud alert (freeze your credit) and get your credit reports; see if anything else is happening as a result of the theft of your SSN. You will no doubt want to replace your Social Security card (online you can read about this at

    Be proactive!

    Q: Is there insurance for identity theft?

    J.V., Irvine

    A: There is insurance for identity theft. Research indicates the typical policy provides certain financial protection if your identity is stolen, and may also provide you with alerts about suspicious activity. Such a policy usually will cover the costs of restoring your identity, and in some cases may reimburse you for money lost as a result of the unauthorized transactions.

    Bottom line, if you have a trusted insurance agent, go over carefully with him or her what is available in the way of identity theft insurance. If you “do it yourself,” make sure you know what you are getting, and not getting, along with your options.


    The Federal Trade Commission has a helpful online link if you are the victim of identity theft. Go to Among other steps, there is a form you should promptly fill out and submit to the FTC.

    Ron Sokol has been a practicing attorney for over 40 years, and has also served many times as a judge pro tem, mediator, and arbitrator.  It is important to keep in mind that this column presents a summary of the law, and is not to be treated or considered legal advice, let alone a substitute for actual consultation with a qualified professional.

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    ​ Orange County Register