Identity Theft Lawyers
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What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, identification, address, Social Security number, credit cards, or other identity information without your knowledge or permission to commit fraud or other crimes. This might include opening credit cards in your name, filing a fraudulent tax return in your name, or even providing your name to a law enforcement officer when being ticketed or arrested. Identity theft can affect your finances, your credit, and even your criminal record.
How Are Identities Stolen?
Criminals obtain the personal information necessary to steal identities in a number of ways, for example:
- Robbery: Stealing wallets or purses to obtain drivers licenses, credit cards, etc.
- Mail theft: Stealing mail, such as bank statements, credit card statements, or pre-approved new credit card offers.
- Dumpster diving: Rummaging through trash to find documents containing identification information and account numbers.
- Computer fraud: Hacking into computer systems that contain identification information.
- Phishing: Scamming information by posing as a legitimate business person.
What Are the Consequences of Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a federal offense, and many states have also enacted statutes criminalizing the practice. A person convicted of identity theft faces a variety of penalties, including:
- Restitution to the victim
- Forfeiture of any personal property used to commit the crime
- Punishment for any corresponding crimes, such as mail fraud or credit card fraud
What to Do as the Victim of Identity Theft?
If you think that you identity has been stolen you should call the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the police will forward your case to the District Attorney’s office to prosecute the person who committed the crime against you. You should also immediately contact your bank and credit card companies and inform them of the problem. You may even wish to freeze or close the accounts.
In addition, you might consider contacting a personal injury lawyer. Victims of identity theft stand to recover compensatory, emotional, and punitive damages as well as restitution and injunctive relief. Almost all states allow victims of identity theft to sue under a variety of claims.
What If I Have Been Accused of Identity Theft?
If you are accused of identity theft or fraud you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the complicated legal system.
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Last Modified: 09-04-2014 02:05 PM PDT
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