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.
Is Identity Theft a Common Issue?
According to 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.
The 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.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call.