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Identity theft: A serious and confusing crime

Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is exactly what it sounds like. This is a type of crime in which a person wrongfully uses or obtains another individual's personal data in a matter that involves deception or fraud. Adding to this, the theft usually occurs so that the person stealing the data can make a financial gain.

Generally speaking, identity theft laws make it illegal for a person to use another individual's financial or personal information without consent. This can include but is not limited to credit history, social security number and PIN numbers.

There are many ways in which this information is acquired, such as:

  • Stolen mail
  • Lost mail
  • Stolen or lost purses and wallets
  • Unlawful access to financial records
  • Unlawful access to a person's electronic device (such as a smartphone or computer)

As identity theft became more and more common, it led Congress to pass a new law in 1998 making it a federal crime. Subsequently, anyone charged with identity theft faces serious consequences, including prison time and large fines.

A variety of government agencies can become part of an identity theft investigation, such as:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Secret Service
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Postal Inspection Service

What to do next?

With so much gray area, it's easy to see why many people face confusion when it comes to an identity theft charge.

Imagine this: You thought a person gave you permission to use his or her personal or financial information, just to find later on that the person doesn't remember doing so. From there, the person turns you into the police and you find yourself facing charges of identity theft.

It doesn't matter that the individual gave you permission, as you're still facing trouble with the law. Now, it's important to learn more about the charges, your legal rights and the type of defense strategy you can use.

As both a serious and confusing crime, any charge associated with identity theft can change your life forever. You need to understand this, so that you take immediate action.

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