Identity Theft Law



What is Identity Theft Law?

Identity theft law provides the legal rules governing crimes in which the perpetrator gains access to sensitive personal information belonging to the victim, and then uses this information to commit fraud. The stolen information may consist of the victimís financial records, such as credit card and bank account numbers. It can also consist of indentifying information like PIN numbers, internet passwords, home or email addresses, driverís license numbers, social security numbers, birth dates, signature samples, and so forth. By obtaining these kinds of data, identity thieves are then able to impersonate their victims for personal gain.

Americaís Fastest Growing Crime

Although law enforcement agencies are well aware of the prevalence of identity theft, these crimes are proving remarkably difficult to prevent, and they are occurring with increasing frequency. The sheer volume of digital information exchanged on the internet every day creates opportunities for hackers and other tech savvy criminals to steal data without being discovered. Similarly, once cyber crimes are discovered, law enforcement is often unable to locate and apprehend the individuals responsible. This may be due, in part, to the fact that a large percentage of the identity thieves preying on Americans are believed to be living overseas.

Dealing with the Threat of Identity Theft

Anyone who is concerned with the possibility of identity theft should adopt techniques designed to stop these kinds of crimes before they happen. A great deal of information about identity theft prevention is available from trustworthy sources, such as state attorneys general offices, the United States Department of Justice, and local consumer protection agencies. Among the most effective strategies to avoid becoming a victim include conducting regularly scheduled credit report reviews, using online passwords that are unique and difficult to guess, shredding financial documents before throwing them away, and sending and receiving mail using a secure mailbox.

Taking the recommended precautions is no guarantee against identity theft, however. One of the best ways for people to minimize loss in the event they are victimized is to learn to recognize the signs that a crime has occurred. Unfamiliar entries on credit reports are a strong indication of identity theft. Other signs include bills arriving in the mail addressed to someone else, a sudden increase in pre-approved credit offers, and unexpected telephone calls from debt collectors. It is important to quickly follow up on such occurrences to determine their cause. Those who suspect an identity crime is being committed should immediately report the incident to the appropriate credit agencies and law enforcement officials.

Taking Action after a Crime Occurs

Unfortunately, by the time most victims figure out what is happening to them, significant harm has already been done. Identity thieves can take money from banking or retirement accounts, draw on existing lines of credit, open new credit accounts, file tax returns in the victimís name, use the victimís identification as an alias following an arrest, and more. It seems that as fast as public officials get word out to the public about a particular kind of identity theft, criminals have developed new schemes for committing fraud. Once victimized, people are often left feeling vulnerable, upset, and unsure of what to do next.

At this stage, victims will benefit from consulting an attorney. Almost any kind of damage to a victimís credit or reputation can be effectively undone with the help of experienced legal counsel. Of course, hiring a private attorney is not free, and victims will be understandably reluctant to spend money on a problem someone else created. Nonetheless, the reality is that victims must take the lead in putting their personal and financial lives back together. An experienced attorney can expedite the process. This is especially true in situations that require victims to defend or prosecute a lawsuit in order to reverse the effects of the crime perpetrated against them.

For example, identity theft victims are often sued by creditors due to outstanding credit balances created by the fraud. Lawsuits like this can lead to liens against the victimís property, wage garnishments, and other collection efforts by the creditor. An attorney can put a stop to all this. He or she can enter an appearance in the lawsuit and force the creditor to prove the debt is valid. After halting any pending legal action against the victim, an attorney can contact credit agencies and ensure they take corrective action. Finally, in the unlikely event the perpetrator has been identified, a lawyer can pursue a civil fraud case against that individual, or help persuade the district attorney to file charges.

Hire an Identity Theft Attorney Now

If you have fallen victim to an identity theft scam, time is of the essence. You need to act fast to prevent further harm to your good name. There are attorneys near you that specialize in identity theft cases. You may even be able to seek compensation from those who wronged you.

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Articles on HG.org Related to Identity Theft

  • Hereís What You Can Do if Youíve Been Falsely Accused of Identity Theft
    The obvious reaction on getting accused for identity theft would be to panic, however, consulting a criminal defense attorney could get you much clarity of the legal proceedings and your available options. He can considerably minimize the harsh consequences to the minimum possible.
  • Ten Steps to Take if Youíve Been the Victim of Identity Theft
    Identity theft is running rampant in our country. If you are the victim of identity theft, there are some important steps to take to ensure that you can restore your credit and won't be charged for these fraudulent charges.
  • What to Do After Identity Theft
    Identity theft occurs when a person takes someone elseís personal information and uses it for financial gain, such as by getting credit cards in the victimís name and running up debt under that personís name while benefiting from the purchases. Identity theft can have a significant and adverse effect on a personís credit and financial stability.
  • How Social Networks are Used for Identity Theft
    The prevalence of identity theft appears to be increasing as technology continues to move forward. The easy ability of accessing the Internet has helped a lot of individuals steal the identities of unsuspecting victims. The rampant use of fraud has assisted these criminals in obtaining information about others that they otherwise would not have any access to.
  • Identity Theft Definition
    Identity theft is a serious crime that results in serious consequences. Identity theft cases continue to increase as new technological advancements make it easier for people to pretend to be someone else.
  • Prevent Identity Theft
    Today, there are higher risks of being victimized of identity theft than ever before. This is due to the easy access that many culprits have due to technology. Various mechanisms exist in which a criminal can get a personís personal information and credit card information through computers and other devices.
  • Internet Crimes
    Over 15 million Americans are victims of Identity Theft each year. Another 100 million more are at risk.
  • Who in Identity Theft Needs a Lawyer?
    Identity theft is a crime that occurs when someone obtains another personís private information in a wrongful manner through fraud or deception, usually so that the perpetrator can achieve economic gain. When identity theft occurs, there are two main parties who may wish to seek legal counsel: defendants and victims.
  • Committing Offenses on the Internet Ė Internet Crime
    When a crime is allegedly committed using the internet the first question is always, ďWhere should this case be handled?Ē Should it be in the state where the offender committed the offense? Should it be where the victim lives? Should it be somewhere else like in federal court?
  • Fake ID Laws
    Many remember a time before 9/11 when using a fake ID was almost a rite of passage, and those caught doing so were usually subject only to having their ID confiscated, a thorough scolding, and being sent home to answer to likely irate parents. While still prevalent, using fake ID's is no longer considered a harmless practice and those caught making or using them can face very severe criminal punishments.
  • All Criminal Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Criminal Law including: arson, assault, battery, bribery, burglary, child abuse, child pornography, computer crime, controlled substances, credit card fraud, criminal defense, criminal law, drugs and narcotics, DUI, DWI, embezzlement, fraud, expungements, felonies, homicide, identity theft, manslaughter, money laundering, murder, perjury, prostitution, rape, RICO, robbery, sex crimes, shoplifting, theft, weapons, white collar crime and wire fraud.

Identity Theft Law - US

  • Commercial Fraud Task Force Committee - Identity Theft and Bankruptcy Fraud

    Stealing or fraudulently using someone elseís personal identifying information, which is commonly referred to as ďidentity theft,Ē is a one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. It is estimated that approximately 10 million Americans were identity theft victims in 2003.

  • Federal Trade Commission - Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

    Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft. The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didnít makeóor until youíre contacted by a debt collector.

  • Federal Trade Commission - Protecting your Identity
  • Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998

    An Act to amend chapter 47 of title 18, United States Code, relating to identity fraud, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, [NOTE: Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998.]

  • Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2009

    To amend title II of the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to protect the integrity and confidentiality of Social Security account numbers issued under such title, to prohibit the establishment in the Federal Government of any uniform national identifying number, and to prohibit Federal agencies from imposing standards for identification of individuals on other agencies or persons.

  • Identity Theft Red Flags Rules

    The Federal Trade Commission's new rules on identity theft, known as "Red Flags Rules," require financial institutions, utilities, and other creditors to set up programs aimed at preventing identity theft.

  • Presidentís Task Force on Identity Theft

    The Presidentís Task Force on Identity Theft was established by Executive Order 13402 on May 10, 2006, launching a new era in the fight against identity theft. Recognizing the heavy financial and emotional toll that identity theft exacts from its victims, and the severe burden it places on the economy, President Bush called for a coordinated approach among government agencies to combat this crime.

  • United States Code - Fraud and False Statements

    Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features, and information. (Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 47)

  • United States Postal Inspection Service - Identity Theft

    Identity theft is America's fastest-growing crime. Last year alone, more than 9.9 million Americans were victims of identity theft, a crime that cost them roughly $5 billion. The number of ID theft victims and their total losses are probably much higher. It's hard to pin down, because law enforcement agencies may classify ID theft differently--it can involve credit card fraud, Internet fraud, or mail theft, among other crimes.

  • USDOJ - Identity Theft / Identity Fraud

    The short answer is that identity theft is a crime. Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. These Web pages are intended to explain why you need to take precautions to protect yourself from identity theft. Unlike your fingerprints, which are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else for their use, your personal data ≠ especially your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card number, your telephone calling card number, and other valuable identifying data ≠ can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands, to personally profit at your expense.

Identity Theft Law - International

  • Canada - Identity Theft Overview
  • CIFAS - Identity Fraud and Identity Theft

    CIFAS provides the UK's most comprehensive databases of confirmed fraud data, as well as an extensive range of fraud prevention services, using the latest technology to protect organisations from the effects of fraud.

  • EU Legislation Directive 95/46/EC - Protection of Personal Data

    Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data.

  • Future of Identity in the Information Society (FIDIS)

    FIDIS (Future of Identity in the Information Society) is a NoE (Network of Excellence) supported by the European Union under the 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development within the Information Society Technologies (IST) priority in the Action Line: "Towards a global dependability and security framework".

Organizations Related to Identity Theft

  • FraudWatch International

    Identity Theft occurs when someone acquires your personal information and uses it without your knowledge to apply for credit cards, make unauthorized purchases, gain access to your bank accounts or apply for credit and obtain loans in your name. FraudWatch International sees itself meeting the needs of consumers by providing education of prevention measures and providing information on what to do if consumers become victims.

  • ID Safety: A Nationwide Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Identity Crime

    BAC and IACP have joined forces in a leadership role to form a unique three-year partnership to develop a nationwide strategy to combat identity crime and provide consumer protection. This strategy will encompass the critical responsibilities of law enforcement, the private sector, and the public. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to educate both the public and law enforcement officials on ways to prevent and respond to identity crime.

  • Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC)

    ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, is the leading consumer advocate on identity fraud and the financial services industryís identity management solution center. An affiliate of The Financial Services Roundtable, ITAC is supported by the industry as a free service for our customers. Since 2004, ITAC has helped tens of thousands of consumers restore their identity.

  • Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Management Standards Panel

    The Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Management Standards Panel (IDSP) is a cross-sector coordinating body whose objective is to facilitate the timely development, promulgation and use of voluntary consensus standards and guidelines that will equip and assist the private sector, government and consumers in minimizing the scope and scale of identity theft and fraud.

  • Identity Theft Prevention and Survival

    Identity theft or identity fraud (true name fraud) is the taking of the victimís identity to obtain credit, credit cards from banks and retailers, steal money from the victimís existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with utility companies, rent an apartment, file bankruptcy or obtain a job using the victimís name. The Impersonator steals thousands of dollars in the victimís name without the victim even knowing about it for months or even years. Recently criminals have been using the victimís identity to commit crimes ranging form traffic infractions to felonies.

  • Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)

    Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is a nonprofit, nationally respected organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of identity theft. The ITRC provides victim and consumer support as well as public education. The ITRC also advises governmental agencies, legislators, law enforcement, and businesses about the evolving and growing problem of identity theft.

  • Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)

    OVC is committed to enhancing the Nationís capacity to assist crime victims and to providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime.

Publications Related to Identity Theft

  • Minimizing Your Risks Against Identity Theft

    While nothing can guarantee that you won't become a victim of identity theft, you can minimize your risk, and minimize the damage if a problem develops, by making it more difficult for identity thieves to access your personal information.

  • Privacy Journal

    Privacy Journal is the most authoritative publication in the world on the individual's right to privacy. The monthly newsletter was founded in 1974, before there was an Internet, before there was e-mail, and before there was automated telemarketing. Thus, it's the oldest publication on privacy in the world.




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