In Part 1 of "What's Your Good Name Worth?", the financial implications of identity theft were discussed. In part 2, we'll discuss the legal and liability implications of identity theft.
As an example, the son of a 72 year old woman recently shared their story with me:
"My mother's DMV record was stolen without her knowledge. One day she was driving home from the grocery store and was pulled over by a police officer. When my mother's driver's license number was run through the police department's records, it showed that there was a warrant out for her arrest for DWI. Can you believe that? The officer actually arrested my mother, put her in handcuffs and booked her at the station. My mother lives on a fixed income, has never used a lawyer before, and doesn't drink."
The cost of time, bond, and good council were all something this mother couldn't afford. The complications of identity theft can increase if you're trying to get a job, buy a house, join a professional organization, etc., where the use of a credit and background check are applied.
So in understanding how identitiy theft can effect you in more ways then financially, can you afford a lawyer to resolve a breach on your personal character, as quickly as possible? If you've never used a lawyer before, let's break down some numbers. Before a lawyer will start to handle a case, they require a retainer. Depending on the need of the lawyer, a retainer could be anywhere from $1000-$10,000 up front and at $250-$350 an hour, you may be required to pay additional hourly fees after your 4-30 hours of service have been rendered, if you are still without resolution.
Unlike an insurance company's HMO, where you pay monthly payments and co-pays, for smaller out-of-pocket expenses, lawyers expect everyone to afford them up front, or go without your rights being protected. In actuality, only 5% of Americans can afford a lawyer this way. Since the majority of our government's decision makers have a legal background, don't expect for them to change the affordability for rightful council any time soon. However, there is another option - a viable option which proves help for the majority of American wage earners. It's called Pre-Paid Legal. You can have access to this option on a monthly basis, if using as an individual or, your employer can provide this option as a benefits payroll deduction. Having access to such a service, will save you time, money, and your good name.