Identity theft and fraud entail all those activities where a person’s personal data is obtained and used without their permission for nefarious means. In almost all states it is considered a crime for a person to unlawfully acquire and misuse another’s personal information which can include credit card numbers, social security numbers etc. This information is usually acquired through unlawful access via the internet or physically using lost or stolen credit cards, reports, wallets etc.
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act labels identity theft as a federal crime. Pursuant to the Act, the elements required to prove identity theft are as follows:
1) knowing transfer or use without legal authority; 2) of the source of identity of another person; 3) with the intention to perform or assist an activity that is a violation of federal law or is a felony under state law. Many government departments are committed to dealing with this crime including the FBI, FTC and the secret service. The Theft Penalty Enhancement Act 2004 has imposed additional sentences for aggravated identity theft.
Identity theft most often takes place without the knowledge of the victim, while robberies and burglary are blatant acts that are easily noticeable on the victim’s part. In the case of identity theft and fraud, the victim might be oblivious for large periods of time regarding the misuse of their personal information. After a while, they may start noticing peculiar transactions and decisions taking place using their name and information.
Identity theft laws are governed by both state and federal laws. Therefore, if you have been accused of identity theft, it is highly recommended that you contact a competent criminal defense attorney near you to protect your rights.