Identity Theft Attorney | Identity Theft Lawyer

You’ve probably heard of identity theft, but do you know what it actually entails? If you’ve ever asked the question “What is identity theft,” you should know that about 1 out of 3 adults has experienced identity theft at some point, which is more than twitch the national average. To put that another way, 14.4 million people had their identities stolen in 2019. That’s about 1 out of every 15 people. This makes identity theft one of the most pervasive crimes in the United States today.

Identity theft may not be as violent as robbing a bank or stealing someone’s car, but it is a very serious crime with severe consequences. This article will tell you about identity theft, what the consequences are if you’re caught and what you can do to avoid it.

What Is Identity Theft?

The United States Department of Justice defines identity theft (and identity fraud) as “terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”

Identity theft can include a wide variety of activities that involve having personal data such as name, address, Social Security number, and more stolen and used for financial gain. This usually involves the thief pretending to be the victim and opening accounts in their name.

Identity Theft Examples

Identity theft is especially tricky because it can show up in some ways. Some examples include:

  • Using someone else’s information to apply for loans or credit cards
  • Spoofing their information to make withdrawals from bank accounts
  • Getting into online accounts and making purchases under a victim’s name
  • Obtaining any kinds of goods or services under someone else’s name without their knowledge

The key point is that if you’re using someone else’s name and information to obtain any kind of goods and services, that’s identity theft, and it’s illegal.

Is Identity Theft a Federal Crime?

What is identity theft in terms of legal severity? Is identity theft a felony? Yes, identity theft has been a felony in the United States since 1998. That’s when Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. This makes knowingly transferring or using another person’s identification without the proper authority a felony under United States Law.

Violating the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act can carry penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment, fines, and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to commit identity theft.

Identity theft can also involve violations of other federal laws on identification fraud, credit card fraud, computer fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, or financial institution fraud. These federal violations are also felonies and can carry further sentences of up to 30 years in prison along with fines and forfeiture. That’s in addition to the original identity theft sentence.

How Do I Detect Identity Theft?

Identity thieves are getting more and more sophisticated with their attempts. Some common things to look out for are:

  • Always cover your phone in public, especially if you have any personal or financial information up on the screen. It sounds simple, but think about how much information someone can find out about you if they just looked over your shoulder.
  • You may receive physical mail about pre-approved credit cards or loans. If that’s the case, tear up any materials before discarding them. A personal shredder works even better. An identity thief could intercept the letter out of your garbage and fill out the application with your information and their address.
  • If you ever get an email asking you to send bank information, Social Security numbers, or other sensitive information in a reply, never respond to those, even if it’s from an institution you know. Always find the customer support information from a reputable website and follow up that way. Much identity theft happens through faked emails designed to look legitimate but steal your information.

What Do I Do If I’m A Victim of Identity Theft?

Being a victim of identity theft is costly and time-consuming. If it happens to you, though, you do have some steps you can take.

  • Call any credit card companies and banks and cancel cards immediately.
  • Contact the major credit card monitoring companies and place a fraud alert.
  • Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Report to your local police department.

Getting identity theft issues resolved can take a long time. It’s always better to be vigilant and avoid identity theft than deal with it happening to you.

What Do I Do If I’m Accused of Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a serious issue in the United States and carries serious consequences for those who commit it. If you find yourself in a position where you have access to others’ personal information, get out of the situation as quickly as possible and report to the proper authorities.

If you find yourself facing identity theft charges, reach out to the Zoukis Consulting Group as soon as possible. We are ready to defend you.