Identity theft is increasingly investigated and prosecuted in Alabama and nationwide. Those who are charged with the crime can face serious penalties, including federal charges. While banks and credit card companies are seeking new ways to safeguard accounts against fraud, some expert criminals are seeking out a new form of identity theft—theft of a child’s identity. The classic form of identity theft is taking over another person’s name, Social Security number and credit record. This is an easier and more successful feat when the target has a virtual clean slate.
When under investigation for theft or a serious federal offense, it is important to consult with an experienced advocate who can protect your rights. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience representing clients facing federal charges and serious penalties. We also understand the advanced technology and resources used to investigate complex crimes, including computer crimes and identity theft. To best protect the rights of a defendant, we will review all evidence, poke holes in the prosecution’s case, and challenge any 4th Amendment violations, including unlawful search or seizure of property.
Historically, identity theft involved borrowing separate pieces of information and creating a new identity. An ID thief may use one person’s name, another person’s security card, or draw information from multiple accounts to create a single ID. According to a CBS report, identity thefts can successfully gain credit with only an address and a Social Security number. Many creditors do not thoroughly screen applications and will look for a credit pattern and Social Security recognition. This means that targeting children with a blank slate credit score can be successful and lucrative for potential fraudsters.
Kids can be vulnerable to identity theft because they have a pre-existing Social Security number. Most children do not have a credit report or check their credit scores for years. They will only discover a credit mark when they apply for student loans that their Social Security number, name, or address has been in use. Identity thieves have used medical records, school forms, and other documentation that unnecessarily ask for a child’s Social Security number. Crime watchdog groups say that parents should be very aware of who they are giving information to and why. Children in foster homes have also been targets of identity theft. Many victims will not realize that their credit has plummeted for years after the theft occurred.
Individuals who have been accused of identity theft should be aware of the potential charges they may face. Identity theft may be “true name” fraud or “account takeover fraud.” Defendants may get charged for opening another account with another person’s name, birth date, or Social Security number. Congress passed The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998, making it a federal crime to transfer a means of identification with an intent to commit unlawful activity. Charges and penalties can be lasting and severe. Individuals who are under investigation or who are facing computer or criminal identity theft charges should consult with an experienced advocate who can review the facts of their case and protect their rights.