DO EMPLOYEES OF LAW FIRMS  OR OTHER INDIVIDUALS HAVE TO BE LICENSED PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS TO LEGALLY CONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS AND GATHER INFORMATION?
Yes.  In 2003, the Legislature expanded the powers of the Texas Security Act (Chapter 1702 of the Texas Occupations Code).  Previously, a lawyer's staff could be used as investigators.  Under the new rule, unless they are licensed private investigators they may no longer do so.  For example, a friend may not go out and follow your spouse and take pictures.  Attorneys may no longer send an unlicensed person from the firm's office to conduct an investigation or they may be guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor, as well as the person who conducted the investigation.  Attorneys may no longer send paralegals out to interview witnesses to a car wreck, take photographs, or research records on a particular case.  

SUPREME COURT ORDERS ON STATEWIDE CERTIFICATION OF PROCESS SERVERS.
The Texas Supreme Court approved amendments to Rules 103 and 536(a) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, effective July 1, 2005, governing statewide certification of process servers. The Court also issued a companion to establish the framework for certification of those approved to serve process under the revised rules, to approve of certain existing civil process service courses, and to establish the framework for the Board to approve additional courses.

The Supreme Court further maintains a list of approved process servers.  A copy of this list can be found at: 
 

http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/rules/Statewide_Authorized_Servers.pdf


IDENTITY THEFT HELP
If you have found you are a victim of identity theft, there are certain actions you should take as soon as you are aware of the situation.  Most individuals are unaware that they are a victim of identity theft until a year or two after the fact.  It is estimated that the average victim will have to spend 30 hours to straighten out the problems according to the FTC.  If you find that you are a victim of identify theft be sure to do the following:

     Contact the three major credit bureaus.  Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Request a    fraud alert be placed on your file.

     Contact any account that was fraudulently opened and ask that they review  your account and then freeze or close the account.

     Contact any company with which you have accounts including credit, banks, loans and utilities.  Check to make sure that there has been no fraudulent activity.  Change your account numbers and passwords.  If necessary close the account.

     If necessary, contact the DMV and have your drivers license number changed.

     File a report with your local police department as well as the department where the theft occurred.

     File a complaint with th eFTC at www.ftc.gov.
                                                                                            
SOURCE:  cbs.marketwatch.com

     It is always wise to keep all of your account numbers written down in a secure place along with the telephone number for quick reference.  Should your billfold be stolen, you will not need to panic trying to remember which cards you had, digging for statements and account numbers and looking up phone numbers.  Instead you will have all of the information at your fingertips and will be able to quickly cancel or freeze any accounts.
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