When you discover someone else is using your identity, it can feel like an intense violation. Not only can this be unsettling, as someone has all of your personal information, but it can also impact your finances for decades. As such, it’s essential to do what you can to hold the perpetrator responsible for their actions. Though this isn’t always easy, as many are advanced hackers, it can be done. Luckily, a Los Angeles, California identity theft lawyer can help you with these matters. Keep reading to learn more about this crime, the penalties for identity theft, and what you should do if you’re a victim.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses the sensitive information of another person as their own. This has many forms, but generally, whenever someone takes another person’s name, date of birth, Social Security number, or address to open accounts in their name or gain access to personal accounts, this is considered identity theft. However, this can also occur if someone uses another person’s credit card without permission.
Identity theft is considered egregious, as this is an invasion of privacy and can severely impact another person’s financial future. Often, thieves will open accounts in the name of another without paying the bill, causing the victim’s credit score to plummet due to no fault of their own.
What Penalties for Identity Theft Can Someone Face?
The penalties for identity theft can be severe, as California classifies this crime as a wobbler. That means it can either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. How the crime is charged will depend on the factors of the case and the criminal history of the defendant.
If the crime is charged as a misdemeanor, the perpetrator will face a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 and probation. As a felony, the defendant can expect up to three years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and formal probation.
It’s also important to note that federal law can likely impact the charges. Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, producing someone else’s identifying documents or playing any role in the falsification of documents can result in up to 30 years in federal prison.
What Should I Do if I’m a Victim?
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, you must take the necessary steps to protect yourself. You’ll first want to freeze all your accounts, which helps prevent the thief from taking out any additional funds or loans in your name. Next, you’ll want to report the theft to the police. You should provide them with as much detail about the theft as possible, as this can help them pursue the thief.
Next, you’ll want to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you recover from the identity theft while also pursuing justice in the form of damages from the defendant.
When you need assistance, Los Angeles Legal Solutions is ready to fight for you. We understand the devastating impacts identity theft can have on a victim, which is why we’re here to assist you through these challenging times. Contact our team today to learn how we will fight for you.