Identity theft is a serious crime that can ruin your financial and personal life. In some cases, identity theft can also be a felony.
Here is a look at identity theft, how it can be a felony, and how you can protect yourself.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone steals another person’s personal information, such as their name, Social Security number, or credit card number, and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity thieves can use stolen information to open new accounts in the victim’s name, make unauthorized purchases, or file tax returns in the victim’s name.
How Can Identity Theft Be a Felony?
Identity theft can be a felony in several cases, including:
- If the identity thief uses the victim’s information to commit fraud, such as opening new accounts or making unauthorized purchases.
- If the identity thief uses the victim’s information to commit a crime, such as tax evasion or terrorism.
- If the identity thief uses the victim’s information to cause financial harm to the victim, such as by maxing out the victim’s credit cards or taking out loans in the victim’s name.
The penalties for identity theft can vary depending on the state and the specific circumstances of the crime.
However, identity theft can result in fines, imprisonment, or both.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
There are several things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, including:
- Be careful about what information you share online. Only share your personal information with websites that you trust.
- Keep your personal information safe. Shred any documents that contain your personal information before you throw them away.
- Monitor your credit report for any unauthorized activity. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Report any suspected identity theft to the police and the three major credit bureaus.
By taking these precautions, you can help to protect yourself from identity theft.
Identity theft is a serious crime that can devastate the victim’s financial and personal life.
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, it is important to protect yourself and report the crime to the police.
You should also contact the three major credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit report. This will make it easier for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for help. The FTC has a website about identity theft and how to protect yourself. You can also file a complaint with the FTC online or by phone.
The FTC can help you to:
- Get your credit report
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report
- Dispute fraudulent charges on your credit report
- Get help from creditors
- Get help from law enforcement
The FTC can also provide you with information about how to protect yourself from identity theft in the future.