What Constitutes Identity Theft?

It takes years to build up a name-hard work and commitment are required to ensure one's name remains in good standing. When that name is stolen and all that hard work wasted, it can severely impact the rest of the Atlanta citizen's life. One instance when someone's personal data is stolen in order to use it for fraud or deception leading to economic gain is known as identity theft. Personal data includes social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account information.

The federal offense of identity theft was created in 1998 and is treated very seriously. Even though there is rarely any direct physical harm in this form of crime, it can cause emotional and financial problems for the victims and therefore carries severe penalties.

According to the United States Department of Justice, personal data can be obtained in various ways. Dumpster diving may perhaps be the most common way, where the accused is suspected of going through the alleged victim's garbage cans or trash bins in order to obtain copies of bank statements or any record bearing the person's name or personal information. Another way the Department of Justice claims identity theft takes place is through shoulder surfing-the accused is suspected of watching the alleged victim when they take out their credit card or punch in a card number and take note of it.

The Department of Justice claims that it may take years for the alleged victims to rebuild their lives, but it is equally true that it can take years for an innocent person accused of a crime to rebuild their life as well. When the authorities launch a criminal investigation or bring federal theft charges against someone who did not commit the crime, this can affect the accused individual's reputation and livelihood. In order to avoid these consequences, Atlanta residents may want to consider consulting an experienced attorney for assistance.

Source: The United States Department of Justice, "Identity Theft and Identity Fraud," Accessed on Dec. 16, 2014


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