All forms of identity theft may be considered federal crimes and are often prosecuted on the federal level. Federal crimes tend to be much more severe, with graver consequences for the offender when tried in federal court compared to those handled at the state level.
Identity theft encompasses a rather wide range of activities, as well as mediums through which offenders obtain the information that enables them to commit such crimes. There are, however, specific types of personally identifying information that are commonly utilized for these kinds of theft.
Damaging Personal Information
Personal information that is typically helpful for an individual in acquiring benefits and financial services can be extremely damaging when used by an identity thief to fraudulently acquire money, credit, goods, or services. Such commonly-used identifying information includes:
- Online passwords: Many banks, brokerage firms, and other financial institutions offer online services their customers, and customers must set up usernames and passwords. Too often, victims will use the same, easy-to-remember passwords for a variety of online accounts, meaning that if one is compromised, others could be as well. If an identity thief gains access to a login information, the victim may not even discover that there is a problem until significant damage has been done;
- Debit, credit, and other bank account numbers: In many cases, identity theft crimes target a victim’s regular bank accounts. Whether an account is a credit line or a debit or savings account, the actual account number and attached personal details may be used to make purchases and transfer funds. These activities are usually discovered when the victim sees transactions that he or she never authorized on his or her monthly statements; and
- Social security numbers: A person’s Social Security number is one of the most valuable pieces of identifying information that can be used illicitly by identity thieves. Access to a Social Security number enables an offender to open new credit card accounts, and just as commonly, commit tax fraud. For example, a thief may use a Social Security number to file a tax return in the victim’s name and steal the refund. This sensitive number can also be used to illegally acquire health insurance and other medical services under the victims’ name.
Seek Legal Help Today
If you are currently under investigation for possible involvement in any kind of identity theft, it is important to take the proper steps to protect yourself. Whatever the circumstances, reach out to a knowledgeable, experienced DuPage County criminal defense attorney the moment you are accused. Call 630-933-8400 for a free consultation at our firm today.