Have you recently been accused of identity theft? If so, you could be in for a rude awakening. A crime that can seem so easy to commit, practically harmless, can lead to serious ramifications for the accused. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says identity theft “happens when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund.”
There are many ways that identity theft victims discover that someone else is using their information. They may receive a notice from the IRS, or they may notice strange accounts on their credit report, or they may receive bills that aren’t theirs, or they may get calls from debt collectors about debts they never incurred.
What Victims Are Advised to Do
When people discover they’re victims of identity theft, they’re advised by the government and law enforcement to act fast. They’re supposed to contact the companies where the fraud occurred, place a fraud alert on their credit reports, and get copies of their credit report. They’re urged to report the identity theft to the FDC, and file a report with their local police department. Often, it’s after a victim notifies the authorities that detectives get on the trail of identity thieves.
“For the FBI, identity theft is nothing new—we've been dealing with criminals faking IDs for decades, from check forgers to fugitives on the run. But the threat is more pervasive and the scams more sophisticated than ever, including online elements. The FBI uses both its criminal and cyber resources—along with its intelligence capabilities—to identify and stop crime groups in their early stages and to root out the many types of perpetrators, which span the Bureau's investigative priorities,” according to the FBI’s website.
Is Identity Theft a State or Federal Crime?
Here’s the deal: Identity theft is criminalized under state and federal law. On the state level, identity theft is illegal under Chapter 8, False Personation, and Cheats of the California Penal Code. It is also criminalized under 18 U.S. Code §1028.Whether such an offense is prosecuted in state or federal court depends on the nature of the crime, the damage done, the offender’s criminal history, and what the state and federal prosecutors decide to do.
Are you facing identity theft charges? If so, contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed at once to schedule a free case evaluation.