Understanding ID theft and the law

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2020 | White Collar Crimes |

Identity theft in New York refers to illegally stealing someone’s identity as their own. The offender usually does this by deceptive means without the victim’s knowledge, such as rummaging through garbage cans to collect personal data. They use the data to open credit cards or take out loans in the victim’s name. Sometimes, an offender gathers data by phishing scams.

ID theft laws

Laws in many states make using someone else’s name and other data a crime. This includes PINs, credit history and Social Security numbers, which may be collected from stolen wallets or purses and from government agencies. ID theft has a negative impact on the victim’s life, causing them to lose peace of mind and time from trying to get things worked out. ID theft not only causes mental stress, but it may also prevent victims from getting jobs and ruin their credit.

Due to these implications of ID theft on victims, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act law in 1998 to make it a federal crime. The law states that a person cannot obtain data of another person with the intent to misuse it.

The Theft Penalty Enhancement Act in 2004 raised the penalties for aggravated ID theft by two years and five years for offenses related to terrorism. Agencies involved in the investigation of ID theft include Secret Service, FBI, Postal Inspection and FTC.

ID theft without the victim’s knowledge

Many ID theft victims don’t know their ID has been stolen until they get notices for loans they didn’t take out or fraudulent credit card charges. Fingerprints commonly cannot be used by anyone else, but personal data can. Offenders could run up big debt in the victim’s name, and the victim may not get reimbursed for the damage.

A person who has been accused of stealing an identity may face white-collar crime charges. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to help the individual reduce or avoid the potential penalties.

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