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What is Identity Theft?

by | Jun 4, 2019 | Identity Theft

What is identity theft exactly? It’s when someone takes another person’s name or their personal information, such as their driver license or Social Security number, and uses that information with the person’s permission to commit fraud, like open new bank accounts, steal tax refunds, order checks, obtain government benefits, or medical services. Sometimes, identity thieves even present another person’s name when they’re arrested.

But don’t just take our word for it. The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, explains identity theft as a crime that can happen to anyone and that it involves stealing someone’s personal information through both simple and sophisticated methods, such as stealing documents or using spyware.

If someone learns that they are a victim of identity theft, the Attorney General advises them to call the police, report the crime, and obtain a police report. They are also urged to go to the Federal Trade Commission’s webpage and report the identity theft.

Can I Face Federal Charges?

Can identity theft be charged as a federal crime? Yes, it can. Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, which officially listed identity theft as a federal crime. By amending 18 U.S.C. § 1028, the Act made it a federal crime to…” knowingly transfer or use, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.”

Identity Theft Under Texas Law

Over the years, many state laws have been passed outlawing identity theft, so depending on the facts of the case, identity theft can be prosecuted in state or federal court. On the state level, it is prosecuted under Title 7, Chapter 32, Fraud, in the Texas Penal Code.

Texas fraud crimes under Chapter 32 include forgery, criminal simulation, trademark counterfeiting, stealing or receiving a stolen check, credit card, and debit card abuse, false statement to obtain property or credit, etc.

If you’re facing identity theft charges on the state or federal level, contact Attorney Peter Barrett immediately to request a free case evaluation.