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Identity Theft

Steps To Legal Assistance

Steps To Legal Assistance

In the event of finding yourself victim to identity theft, you will likely be wondering what your next move should be. The first steps are most oriented towards preventing further damage, and starting the recovery process. But one of the most simplistic steps to take advantage of is finding an identity theft lawyer early in order to have as much help as possible for the upcoming difficulties. Having a qualified identity theft lawyer giving you counsel can very much speed up and ease the process of recuperation after an identity theft attack.
 
 
It is possible to move forward without the assistance of an identity theft lawyer, but doing so would be making the process significantly more difficult, as you would be taking most of the burden of repairing the damage on yourself. With an experienced identity theft lawyer helping you, you would not have to worry as much about many of the smaller procedures necessary to return your life to normal.
 
 
As an example, when you suffer from identity theft, you should file a police report, as well as a complaint with the FTC, in order to ensure that the proper authorities are alerted. Any identity theft victim would be certainly capable of taking these steps on his or her own, but having an identity theft lawyer assist will ensure that these steps are done properly, with the utmost speed.
 
 
Furthermore, having an identity theft lawyer advocating your case will often be helpful in ensuring that the case is actually pursued by the police, as too often, identity theft cases are ignored by law enforcement unless they are part of a significant fraud ring, or are for very high sums of money.
 
 
Identity theft lawyers can also perform many of the other important parts of repairing the damage from an identity theft attack, in that they can help you place a fraud alert on your credit files, so that future incidents will be prevented before they occur, or they can help you to close the accounts that have been affected by the identity theft.
 
 
Though it is in general more rare, an identity theft lawyer can be crucial for dealing with those most extreme cases of identity theft, when the victim of the identity theft becomes accused for the crimes of the identity thief. There have been recorded instances in which the identity thief is able to so thoroughly manipulate the victim's identity in official records that the victim will be associated with any crimes committed by the identity thief; in some cases, even DNA databases have been affected, with DNA samples from the identity thief becoming associated with the victim's name and identity.
 
 
These instances are some of the most terrifying and horrible possible cases involving identity theft, and having an identity theft lawyer standing by your side when you are the victim in such a case is absolutely essential. An identity theft lawyer will be able to offer you the necessary legal defense to ensure that you remain safe from any of the repercussions that could arise from such a case; without an identity theft lawyer, you might find yourself accused or even imprisoned of crimes committed by the identity thief, of which you are completely innocent. 
 
 
Regardless of the exact circumstances surrounding an identity theft case, almost without exception a victim will be assisted greatly by the presence and counsel of an identity theft lawyer. If the victim can afford such an identity theft lawyer, then obtaining the services of one should be one of the earliest steps in the recovery process.
 

Knowing the Legal Recourse to Identity Theft

Knowing the Legal Recourse to Identity Theft

If you become a victim of identity theft, then there are a number of possible legal options you can take to stop identity theft and its negative effects upon you. At first, your primary focus should be to stop identity theft, as opposed to seek reparations, and there are many legal agencies available to help you stop the injurious effects of identity theft.
You can begin the process of trying to stop identity theft by reporting to your local law enforcement, informing them of the particulars of the crime with as much documented evidence as possible, and then obtaining a copy of the information from the police for yourself. The police should then begin investigating the matter, and if nothing else your identity theft will be on record. At that point, you can call the Federal Trade Commission to report the identity theft to them, such that they too can take action to stop the identity theft.
There are more guidelines for what you can do, which you can find on websites online. It is not an easy process, and is likely to be difficult in many different ways, some of which you might success, but in the end you can rest easier knowing that the law is on your side, and that in your attempts to stop identity theft you should be able to sue for some support from the government.
As an example, the US Secret Service technically has jurisdiction over crimes of financial fraud, which they usually only investigate when the crime is sever enough. But should you seek their help in attempting to stop any further identity theft against you, then you can likely get in touch with them and attempt to inform them about your case. Indeed, there are any number of different services that you can use to further avoid identity theft, by preventing the thief from having additional unfettered access to your personal information in any significant fashion.
If, in your attempts to avoid identity theft from this thief further down the road, you encounter resistance from any given organization, you of course have legal recourse for ensuring that this organization helps you, as  most are required to do in cases such as identity theft.
For instance, if a creditor refuses to remove fraudulent entries from your credit report, then you can pursue legal action in order to force the creditor to do so, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act or the Fair Credit Billing Act. The local Bar Association will often be of help in such a case.
If the thief or imposter is successfully taken into custody by law enforcement, then you of course have legal recourse to pursue restitution against him or her. First, though, the thief will likely be under a federal criminal suit, as identity theft is a crime; in this case, you can still take a legal action to assist in the case against the thief by sending a victim statement in through your victim-witness assistance program.
You can, of course, sue the person in civil court at a later point, but doing so would be significantly more oriented towards seeking restitution for damages, than it would be an attempt to avoid identity theft from this person in the future. 

What Are The Associated Charges With Identity Theft

What Are The Associated Charges With Identity Theft

In the course of committing criminal identity theft in America, the perpetrator is very likely to also break other laws, as well, and to then wind up with a number of charges facing him or her, instead of just the charge for criminal identity theft.
 
 
This is to the benefit of the public, as such perpetrators are likely to face much more stringent penalties as a direct result of having broken all of these different statutes and suffering from associated charges. Most of these charges are related to the means of perpetrating criminal identity theft, as the means in and of themselves are separate crimes.
 
 
The first and most obvious is the correlation between identity theft and identity fraud. Criminal identity theft was made its own separate charge under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act.
 
 
This means that one who commits acts of personal identity theft will obviously face charges for those crimes, but will also likely face charges for using the information gained in the act of identity theft. Impersonating another wrongfully in situations where identity is supposed to be verified is called identification fraud, and almost all charges of criminal identity theft will likely be associated with identification fraud.
 
 
Credit card fraud is another major associated charge of criminal identity theft, as one of the most prominent uses of personal identity theft is in using credit card numbers and information wrongfully. While credit card fraud does not necessarily involve personal identity theft, most often the two are connected, as credit card fraud requires certain information which likely can only be obtained through personal identity theft.
 
 
An act of credit card fraud is any in which a credit card is used fraudulent as a monetary source for a transaction. Using another's credit card information fraudulently, then, would be an act of credit card fraud, and would also be an act of personal identity theft, as it would involve stealing another's personal information. Fortunately, credit card fraud has been decreasing in recent years, even as overall criminal identity theft has been decreasing.
 
 
Yet another crime oft-associated with criminal identity theft is computer fraud. A fair portion of criminal identity theft involves purely physical information sources, such as papers with bank account numbers written on them, and therefore can completely bypass computers; but computer fraud is still one of the major sources of personal identity theft.
 
 
Computer fraud is best described as fraudulently hiding or altering data in an attempt to create an unfair advantage. As an example of a case in which the two could be related, one might attempt a criminal identity theft, stealing bank account information and then using it to conduct a number of transfers. Then, one might attempt to cover up the transactions, either by hiding them entirely, or by altering their terms such that they seem innocuous. This latter part would be computer fraud, associated with the earlier perpetrated criminal identity theft.  
 
 
One final type of associated fraud is mail fraud, as a common form of criminal identity theft involves essentially hijacking mail in order to gain the information necessary to perpetrate identity fraud. Mail fraud is actually a fairly broad term, as it refers to any instance in which the postal system plays a role of any significance in an attempt to otherwise illegally gain money or valuables.
 
 
Some forms of criminal identity theft absolutely use the postal service in this fashion, not least because one of the easiest ways to obtain information necessary for perpetrating identity fraud is to get it through mail. Another manner in which mail fraud integrates into identity theft is in the act of perpetrators fraudulently putting in for a change of address for the person they are impersonating, in the hopes of obtaining more information and preventing the victim from discovering the fraud. Such criminal identity theft would be associated with mail fraud.

Overview to Identity Theft Specific Laws

Overview to Identity Theft Specific Laws

As identity theft has changed and become more prevalent, identity theft law has been similarly changed and tweaked in an effort to curb the growth of identity theft. The efficacy of this law is debatable, but it is still important to know and understand the nature of these important laws concerning identity theft.
 
 
Some of the laws are just proposed; some of the laws would provide support of a financial nature to those individuals who are made victims of identity theft; some of the laws would lead to stricter identification practices.
 
 
Perhaps the most important federal identity theft law is the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which was adopted in 1998. This Act forms the basis of combating fraud by making identity theft in and of itself a punishable offense. Specifically, identity theft becomes defined as the "knowingly transferring or using, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any lawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law," according to the US Department of Justice.
 
 
This identity fraud law is the one from which all attempts to defeat or curb identity fraud begin, as it outlines the presence of a punishable offense, and the manners in which prosecution may be pursued.
 
 
The next identity theft law of significance is the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which was passed in July 2004. This act essentially upped the ante for identity theft crimes by setting up penalties for aggravated identity theft. Situations of aggravated identity theft are ones in which identity theft is simply one step in a more complicated process which may involve more serious crimes.
 
 
As an example, if identity theft were simply one part of a process leading up to and permitting a terrorist attack, then it would be a case of aggravated identity theft. This identity theft law furthermore increases penalties for any who perpetrate identity theft crimes after having obtained the information necessary at the perpetrator's place of employment.
 
 
The third, and most recent, of the identity theft laws of significance is the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. This identity theft law is actually an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act which was designed entirely to help combat identity theft.
 
 
The Act gives victims of identity theft the opportunity to correct their credit reports, repairing the damage caused by the identity theft through working with creditors and credit bureaus. FACTA was also key in helping to prevent the spread of unnecessary information which could make identity theft even more prevalent, such as the listing of full credit card numbers on receipts.
 
 
FACTA required that such listings be truncated or blacked out. This identity theft law required a similar practice on the part of credit bureaus disclosing credit reports holding the individual's social security number, as the social security number can be just as dangerous for allowing acts of identity theft as can be the credit card number.
 
 
Finally, FACTA allowed for three different types of fraud alert to be implemented so as to stop credit granters from giving new credit accounts to those who were impersonating identity theft victims.
 
 
These three alerts are initial alerts, for those who suspect they are in danger of identity theft; extended alerts, for those who have officially suffered from identity theft, as extended alerts will last for seven years; and active duty alert, for military officials who are on active duty.

Knowing The Identity Theft Statistics

Knowing The Identity Theft Statistics

The same report offers identity theft statistics on the most common types of identity theft, pointing out that credit card fraud 
 
 
Other identity theft statistics from spendonlife.com show that in 2008, there were 10 million victims of identity theft in America. Although it is unlikely that identity theft would not be followed by identity fraud it does not mean that these individuals suffered from identity theft fraud. To be clear, identity theft is the simple act of stealing information necessary to perpetrate identity fraud.
 
 
Identity fraud is the act of pretending to be another person in a significant fashion. Additional statistics include the fact that, 1 in every 10 American consumers had suffered from some form of identity theft in 2009. Households with a greater overall income are significantly more likely to experience identity theft fraud. Furthermore, 7% of identity theft victims were not victimized for economic, monetary identity theft. Their information was instead used for medical identity theft fraud.
 
 
The identity theft statistics on recovery are not particularly heartening, either. The highest amount of time recorded to correct the damage from an identity theft attack is 5,840 hours, which spendonlife.com interprets as "the equivalent of working a full-time job for two years." The average amount of time is significantly less, of course, but it is still 330 hours, which is no small amount of time. The costs for identity theft fraud are significant, as well. The average incident will cost the victim between $851 and $1,378 out-of-pocket simply to fix the problem. 
 
 
Perhaps the eeriest identity theft statistics of all are those concerning the perpetrators. Of all the victims of identity theft fraud, 43% knew the perpetrator. This meshes with the fact that most identity theft fraud is still done via physical means. Someone who knows the victim is much more able to steal these significant physical documents.

What You Need to Know About Victims of Identity Theft

What You Need to Know About Victims of Identity Theft

Being a victim of identity theft is painful and damaging in many ways; the stories of many such identity theft victims attest to both the emotional toll and the simple practical damage that the crime did to their lives.

An identity theft victim will not only have to repair the financial damage done, but may also have to deal with problems involving mistaken identities all throughout government databases, not to mention having to deal with the emotional stress of such a personal violation. Stories of such victims abound, and act as cautionary tales, both for those seeking to prevent identity theft from happening to themselves, and for those who would act too hastily in situations where identity theft may be influencing the facts. Contact an identity theft lawyer to acquire legal advice and assistance.

One example of a victim of identity theft going through a particularly heinous time is that of Kim Fossen, a 30 year old woman who lost her purse in 2004. She quickly canceled all the credit cards contained therein, and obtained new identification to replace what she had lost. But even so, in 2009 she found herself the victim of extraordinary identity theft. She was arrested on a felony fugitive warrant, based on a New York state warrant for burglary in the second degree and grand larceny, neither of which she had actually committed.

She was in jail for over a day, and all because she was a victim of identity theft perpetrated by one Lien Thi Huynh, a 22 year old escort from Miami Beach who had been using Fossen's identity for three years prior to this incident. Huynh had so thoroughly perpetrated identity theft that even DNA from Huynh was linked to Fossen's name in the databases of some cities. Fossen describes her experience as a victim of identity theft and of wrongful accusation as horrible beyond all doubts.

Another major example of the damage that a victim of identity theft may have to deal with for years after the crime comes from John Harrison, a Connecticut salesman who had his identity stolen in 2001. He had to deal with the fallout from that crime, perpetrated by a 20 year old who stole close to $265,000 in four months. Though the perpetrator was caught, Harrison, as the identity theft victim, still had a long battle ahead of him.

Even though Harrison was given official confirmation from the Department of Justice in the form of letters proving that he was a victim, Harrison was still hounded by creditors seeking to collect on the debts incurred from the identity theft. In 2005, Harrison was still $140,000 in debt as a result of the crime. 

Harrison's story is representative of that of the average identity theft victim. The damage inflicted by an act of identity theft extends far beyond the immediate crime, and can cause problems for years to come, even though the identity theft victim can do exactly as he should in order to prove his innocence.

A single identity theft, even poorly executed, can wreck the finances and record of an perfectly innocent victim for years to come, and there is no strong system implemented to assist such a victim of identity theft in proving that he or she is actually innocent. Furthermore, Fossen's case, while abnormally heinous, outlines the worst dangers of facing an identity theft victim. That identity theft can lead to such terrible incidents simply outlines that more must be done in order to protect an identity theft victim from the undeserved damage brought on by the crime.

All You Need to Know About The History Identity Theft

All You Need to Know About The History Identity Theft

Identity theft, though it has taken on new forms and has become significantly more common, is not a new crime. The history of identity theft extends backwards to the first times that some form of verification of identity was used.
 
 
While this does likely extend all the way back to ancient times, the types of identity theft seen in those days were likely the most basic forms, simple impersonation and lying. More modern types of identity theft likely began with the advent of credit cards, and the use of more and more identity verification processes in government; identity theft is actually less and less common the fewer opportunities for identity verification there are.
 
 
Probably the earliest of the modern types of identity theft was simple dumpster diving, when the perpetrator would go through the trash of his or her victim in the hopes of finding necessary information for identity theft amidst the other detritus.
 
 
Bills and other documents easily hold the information necessary to commit acts of identity theft, and early on in the modern history of identity theft it was likely that there were very few blocks that would have prevented such an easy and blatant form of identity theft. For example, simply finding out the bank account number of the victim might have been enough to perpetrate acts of identity theft in those days.
 
 
Another of the earliest types of identity theft was the phone scam, a ploy essentially involving over-the-phone deception of the victim in order to find out important information. Again, early on in the modern history of identity theft, it was likely that general knowledge about the dangers of identity theft and the methods for its prevention was not very well-disseminated, nor was it very in-depth. As a result, it would've been all too easy to convince victims to hand over important information on the phone, using only a simple set of lies.
 
 
As an example, imagine an instance in which the perpetrator phones the victim to tell the victim that he or she is now being accepted for a vastly increased line of credit, with greatly lowered interest rates. The victim might be willing to hand over information about bank accounts and credit cards to the perpetrator in order to have access to this offer, without even thinking about issues of safety.
 
 
Even more information, like the victim's birth date or social security number, could have been requested in those days, and the victim might not have known enough to realize that he or she should not be giving that information out to an untrusted source.
 
But even for all that identity theft seemed much easier to perpetrate at the beginning of its modern history, it was not performed all that often because of the absence of computers. An individual would have to actively pursue a victim in order to perpetrate the types of identity theft available, and would then likely have to directly lie to more people in order to use that information for any kind of gain.
 
 
But as computers grew in prominence, more and more information was being stored digitally, and more and more transactions could be performed entirely without human contact. No longer did an identity thief necessarily have to speak to a person in order to perpetrate the crime; the thief could now do it through computers. The advent of the Internet exponentially increased the probabilities of such crime occurring, as personal information necessary for committing all types of identity theft was now being sent back and forth between computers regularly.
 
 
The history of identity theft shows that the crime has increased in occurrence with the development of communications technology, and is even now acknowledged to be the fastest growing crime in the world.

Forms of Identity Theft Protection

Forms of Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft is increasingly becoming a world-wide problem, mostly due to advanced communications network provided by the Internet. Whereas years ago identity theft mostly took the form of impersonation with forged documents, in today’s world, identity theft can be done impersonally, from miles away. What forms of identity theft protection, then, would be effective at actually discouraging and preventing acts of identity theft?
The answer is not what most would like to hear, unfortunately. The best identity theft protection system is simply avoiding identification of one’s self on the communication networks that allow for identity theft. The less identification of one’s self that is accessible in the world–albeit mostly via the Internet–the less likely it is that one’s identity will be stolen.
But obviously, this form of identity theft protection is less an actual kind of protection, and more a kind of prevention through avoidance, and may not be viable for any number of people. After all, to use any of the more basic functions of the Internet, you often must provide some form of identification. To avoid all such identification for the sake of identity theft protection would be impractical, if not all together impossible.
There are some services specifically oriented towards identity theft protection, claiming that they will prevent anyone from stealing your identity to use for identity fraud, or that they will quickly detect such theft and fix the problem. While such services certainly sound useful and desirable, the unfortunate problem is that the efficacy of these sources remain in question.
Many rely on credit-report monitoring, which can sometimes be effective in discovering if a new account has been opened in your name by someone who has stolen your identity. But for discovering charges being made on an account that you have legitimately opened, credit-monitoring is useless. Furthermore, some of the credit-monitoring services do not even provide a great deal of efficacy in identity theft protection, as they do not consistently and effectively detect illegitimate account openings.
There are other forms of identity theft protection offered by identity theft services, such as fraud alert, which should prevent any transaction from going through until your identity is officially verified for each one. But just as with credit-monitoring, fraud alert sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t; its effectiveness is not consistent enough to be concretely recommended.
In terms of the future of identity theft protection, many are speaking of using biometric information in order to set up stronger, less breakable blocks in the way of identity theft. Fingerprints, for instance, could likely add another layer of security to general identity theft protection, and while not unbreakable, would help make any given person’s identity perhaps just that extra bit safer.
Unfortunately, however, there are issues with implementing such systems, both technologically and governmentally. Whether or not these systems violate the rights of citizens is still under debate, as such systems could easily be used to monitor citizens’ whereabouts and thus breaking the implied right to privacy.
The best route available for identity theft protection is currently, and most likely will continue to be, constant, accurate judgment of your own finances, to look for any strange discrepancies. Nothing else is likely to be quite as effective as your own two eyes.
 

Understanding Identity Theft Reporting

Understanding Identity Theft Reporting

One of the most crucial elements in combating identity theft is reporting it very quickly. The sooner a victim gets in contact with an organization to report identity theft, the sooner that identity theft can be dealt with, and the less damage will be done.
 
 
It is important to report identity theft immediately, then, in the hopes of solving the problem sooner, rather than later. Most of the following procedures are taken directly from the Department of Justice website, justice.gov, and as such are very advisable for you to follow.
 
 
The first action that a victim of identity theft should take is contacting the Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft. The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act makes the FTC responsible for helping individuals reporting identity theft, both in processing the report and in offering information up to further help those individuals. In addition to the FTC, the local offices of the FBI or the US Secret Service would be good places to report identity theft, as identity theft is a federal crime.
 
 
While contacting the FTC is a good way to initially report identity theft, you should likely contact a number of other organizations in order to ensure that you will be as safe as possible. Reporting identity theft to your local office of the Postal Inspection Service is important if you believe that in the process of identity theft, the perpetrator may have attempted to submit a change-of-address form, so as to have access to your mail, and any credit card bills that might come from new accounts the perpetrator has opened.
 
 
You should report identity theft to the Social Security Administration if the identity theft likely involves your social security and not just your credit card number, as the Social Security Administration can then take immediate action to stop the use of your social security number illegally. Finally, you should likely report identity theft to the Internal Revenue Service if you believe the identity theft has been used to connect you to tax violations wrongly, as the IRS can take action to put a stop on any such connection.
 
 
Beyond contacting the above government agencies, you should likely report identity theft to the fraud units of Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, each of which is a principal credit reporting company. Contacting them early will help to put a hold on your credit, and prevent the problem from becoming any more exacerbated than it already is.
 
 
Additionally, getting touch with those creditors with whom your personal information has been fraudulently used is vital, as it will put an end to such charges until everything can be sorted out. Finally, you should report identity theft to any banks or other financial institutions where an account was stolen via identity theft, and you should report identity theft to check verification companies in order to protect your checks, if they were stolen by an identity thief along with your bank accounts.

Understanding The Identity Theft Charge

Understanding The Identity Theft Charge

Identity theft cases strike most of us as incredibly heinous crimes, as they involve the theft of more than just money, or possessions, but they feel like violations of the most basic privacy rights afforded to citizens. As the Department of Justice recounts on its website, there was one particularly heinous incident that drove this fact home more than any other, in which an individual stole $100,000 of his victim's money through identity theft, and then spent it all…and then called up his victims to tell them that he could keep doing it, because identity theft was not a federal crime yet.
 
 
In order to correct this, identity theft charges came into being in 1998, with the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. The act specifically created a new charge which could be implemented against criminals, a charge of identity theft, as differentiated from identity fraud. Prior to this, however, identity fraud had been the primary charge.
 
 
The difference between the two is that in identity fraud cases, the individual is being charged with having used another's identity in a fraudulent way, whereas in identity theft cases, the defendant is charged with simply stealing the identity with intent to use it in a fraudulent way. In other words, the Act separated stealing the identity from actually using the identity, in order to increase the overall severity of identity theft charges.
 
 
Identity theft charges carry "a maximum term of 15 years' imprisonment, a fine, and criminal forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the offense," according to the Department of Justice. Such a penalty is clearly quite stiff, and makes identity theft cases all the more serious. As an example, in the Central District of California, a man was sentenced 27 months' imprisonment after being assigned identity theft charges for having obtained private bank account information and used it to make a tremendous amount of money.
 
 
But many other examples of successfully prosecuted identity theft cases also show that such cases can involve other charges, as well, such that identity theft charges may be the least of the defendants' worries.
 
 
Identity theft charges can be brought by both the federal government, often in the form of the Federal Trade Commission, and by state or local law enforcement agencies, which can have different penalties attached to those charges. But the main point of all of this is that identity theft charges are very serious, and will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. Those who perpetrate identity theft will no longer get away with it, or be able to hide behind a lack of adequate legislation; they will now face the full penalty for their crimes.