Identity Theft Protection and Help
Simply defined, identity theft is the false assumption of the identity of another individual for personal gain or to avoid an expense.
Recent Identity Theft Legislation
In most cases Identity theft is a federal crime and is prosecuted by the federal government. Identity theft was previously charged as false personation until 1988 when Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act which made it a violation of Federal law.
The four main points of this Act were:
a) Making the offense a separate crime against the individual whose identity was stolen and/or credit was damaged, instead of being defined by financial loss in many cases placing the responsibility on financial institutions, instead of on an individual;
b) Created the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse under the authority of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), forming a central Agency for reporting instances of the crime;
c) Increasing the monetary amounts of fines to be considered as well raising the incarceration period to a maximum punishment of fifteen years in prison;
d) Closing previously existing legal loopholes which had only made it a crime to possess fabricated identity papers, but did not apply when stealing personal identifying information of another person.
This Act was strengthened in 2003 by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act that chiefly fortified protections for the victims of identity theft as well as requiring creditors and consumer reporting agencies (CRA's) to assist with recovery for individuals who were victim to identity theft.
CRA's would now be responsible for assisting with investigations if the injured party disputed what they believed to be inaccurate information, as well as allowing consumers to place fraud alerts on their credit files. The new law also entitled individuals to receive a free credit report, on an annual basis from the three recognized major credit reporting agencies.
Basically, what are known as Red Flag Rules were imposed on creditors and financial institutions to establish programs which were aimed to address and assist identity theft victims.
Further legislation was added in 2004 through the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act which established penalties for using the identity of another individual to commit felonies.
Categorized as aggravated identity theft, this Act defined violations of the theft of Social Security benefits, using stolen identities involving cases of immigration as well as acts of domestic terrorism.
In 2008, the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act allowed the federal courts to prosecute cases of identity theft even when the accused and the victim both resided in the same state. Previously, the federal government was only granted prosecution if the theft involved interstate communication. It also made it clear that restitution orders for identity theft cases may include an amount equal to or in excess of the value of the actual harm of the crime.
As you can see considerable legislation has been passed over the last few decades to safeguard the public from this emerging crime. However, although the government has taken strong action, identity theft is a growing concern.
To find out how offenders access your personal information and view the steps you should take to protect your personal data follow the link at the bottom of this page.
The law office of Michael B. Cohen, Esq. is committed to fighting for all clients' rights who face allegations of identity theft as well as all charges filed by the federal government. As a former Assistant United States Attorney, I have a clear advantage of obtaining the best desired outcome rebutting any federal charges alleged. Working for the prosecution prior to establishing my criminal defense practice in the private sector has given me a superior advantage that will result beneficially for those who seek my help.
A large percentage of criminal cases are settled by a plea agreement. Before I negotiate any plea agreement with the government and ultimately present it to a client for consideration I stress to them that it is important to understand that the presumption of innocence is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove otherwise. If a client is determined and believes they are wrongly accused I will always discuss an offer presented by the government first, but based on the evidence will also consider with my client if going to trial and fighting the charges is a better option than accepting the arrangement proposed by the government.
Call me at any of the phone numbers listed above for a prompt response and free case evaluation. I will fight for your rights guaranteed under the Constitution and devote my abilities to assure the best result, challenging all federal criminal charges alleged.
To view all of my qualifications and understand what should be done next if you or someone you care about is charged with identity theft, or facing any other federal criminal charges, click here.
Nearly twenty years of outstanding private practice federal criminal defense in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and the Palm Beaches as well as all neighboring counties in the surrounding areas of South Florida.