Identity theft and the law

Some South Carolina residents might have experienced identity theft when another person stole their credit card data, Social Security number, or other information. With this kind of information, it is possible to apply for credit cards or take other actions using another person's identity.

In 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which made identity theft a federal crime. One of the cases that influenced Congress in this was a man who ran up more than $100,000 in credit card debt in someone else's name. The man also got a federal home loan and purchased houses, handguns and more. He paid no restitution and was only briefly incarcerated for the crime of making a false statement in order to get a firearm.

The Theft Penalty Enhancement Act in 2004 adds additional penalties if there is any association with terrorism or in cases of aggravated identity theft. A number of agencies are involved in investigating identity theft, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While some identity theft happens when people do not safeguard their information closely enough, in other cases, this information could be stolen. Banks or other companies may have data breaches that allow sensitive information to be stolen.

These types of crimes may have serious consequences. A person who facing charges for identity theft or other types of computer crime may want to contact an attorney about the possibilities for defense. It may help to work with one who has defended other cases of this type because there can be technical details about how computers track and store information and how breaches happen that are relevant to the case but difficult for many people to understand.

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