R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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What is identity theft?

As technology becomes more and more advanced, people in Texas and all over the United States face an increasing risk of identity theft. While the practice may be well-known, many people lack a solid understanding of what identity theft entails, as well as the possible legal penalties.

According to The United States Department of Justice, this type of theft most often involves the pursuit of some sort of monetary gain by fraudulently assuming another person’s identity by using their personal information. Punishments for identity theft can be quite severe depending the nature of the crime itself. Federal offenses entail serious penalties in most cases, with some crimes involving sentences of up to 30 years in prison along with steep fines.

Once personal information is in one’s possession, there are several crimes that can be committed. For instance, a person may be able to access certain services or goods that would be unavailable without the use of an assumed name. It’s also possible to apply for loans or credit under another person’s name, which would allow the identity thief to use that person’s good financial standing to his or her advantage. Identity thieves may even be able to withdraw funds from another bank account if they are in possession of specific information.

Additionally, identity theft can occur in many different ways. Identity thieves often go through one’s trash to look for discarded credit card applications, which they then send in under the other person’s name. Thieves have also been known to use email to trick victims into providing sensitive information under the guise of a free offer or giveaway. Identity thieves may even do what’s known as “shoulder-surfing”, which simply entails eavesdropping on conversations or transactions to come across sensitive data. 

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