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Identity theft takes many forms

The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act was passed by Congress back in 1998 to address the increasing frequency and seriousness of the problem. In the following 17 years, as online access to personal, confidential and even national security information has expanded, the methods of illegally obtaining access to that information have become more sophisticated. So have the methods used by local, state and federal law enforcement for tracking down those who are accused of committing identity theft crimes.

In 2004, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act added penalties for what is called "aggravated" identity theft. That involves using another person's identity to commit a felony. That includes everything from stealing someone's Social Security benefits to committing terrorist acts.

Basically, identity theft involves obtaining someone else's personal information illegally to commit fraud or theft. Often it is done by getting passwords, answers to security questions (such as mother's maiden name) and even biometric data such as iris scans and fingerprints.

Despite warnings to be careful about protecting this information and choosing strong passwords, too many people still leave themselves vulnerable to identity theft. This leaves them open to having bank account and credit card numbers accessed and used by someone else.

If you or your child has been charged with identity theft, it is not something to be taken lightly. The penalties can be severe, particularly if it is prosecuted as a federal crime. An identity theft conviction can ruin the rest of your life. It's essential to have experienced legal representatives who will work to mitigate the consequences of an identity theft charge.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Identity Theft Overview," accessed June 19, 2015

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The Law Office of Joseph Lesniak, LLC

The Law Offices of Joseph Lesniak, LLC
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