Identity theft comes in various forms, but essentially it comes down to
using someone else’s personal identifying information without their
knowledge or consent. Such identifying information includes: driver’s
license number, name, Social Security number, birth date, mother’s
maiden name, credit or debit card, a PIN number, or bank account information.
Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, “Every year more than 25,000 Texas
report being victims of identity theft with thousands unaware that their
information and bank accounts have been targeted. Paxton goes on to say
that identity thieves use stolen information to do the following:
- Make collect calls
- Open checking accounts
- Make long-distance calls
- Make purchases with victims’ credit cards
While Paxton mentions the above crimes associated with identity theft,
these examples are only the beginning. Identity thieves also use stolen
information to obtain mortgages and tax refunds, to obtain Social Security
numbers and driver’s licenses, and to obtain government benefits.
Others use information to commit healthcare fraud and immigration fraud.
Texas Department of Public Safety advises consumers to take the following steps when they discover they’re
victims of identity theft: 1) contact the local police or sheriff’s
office, 2) contact their driver license office, 3) establish a “Stolen
Identity File” with the sheriff’s office, 4) notify their
creditors if there have been unauthorized charges, 5) notify their bank,
6) request a new ATM card from their bank, 7) contact the Social Security
Administration, 8) Contact the Federal Trade Commission, and 9) notify
the U.S. passport agency.
What Texas Law Says
Identity theft is criminalized under both state and
federal law. On the state level, identity theft is addressed under
Title 7, Chapter 32 of the Texas Penal Code, which outlines several fraud-related crimes,
such as credit card abuse, forgery, criminal simulation, and issuance
of bad check among others.
If you are facing identity theft charges on the state or federal level
in Dallas, we urge you to
contact our firm to schedule a
free consultation with
Attorney Peter Barrett. We are
available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call.