It can be unnerving to discover you are the victim of identity theft. This can feel like a massive invasion or privacy, as all of your personal information is in the hands of another. Luckily, there are steps you can take to limit the damages and hold the thief accountable. If you are the victim of identity theft at the hands of another, understanding the penalties they can face for their actions is critical. The following blog explores the consequences and how a California identity theft lawyer can help you recover your identity and receive justice.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone takes your personal information and uses it for their gain. This is most often financial, as they will use your information to open accounts in your name or take out loans. Because they take out loans, you are left with unpaid expenses under your name, negatively impacting your credit score. This information includes your full name, birth date, Social Security number, and account login details.
Additionally, if someone uses your credit or debit card without your permission, this also constitutes identity theft as they are pretending to be you to use your cards.
What Penalties for Identity Theft Can a Perpetrator Faces?
If you are a victim, understanding that someone who has stolen your identity will face consequences can help you achieve a sense of justice for the damages you’ve likely endured as a result.
In California, identity theft is viewed as a “wobbler” crime. Essentially, this means it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime. This includes the mitigating factors of the case and whether or not the perpetrator has a criminal history.
If it’s charged as a felony, the perpetrator will face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. If it’s a misdemeanor, this warrants up to a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
Additionally, the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act makes it a federal crime to use someone else’s documents or partake in the falsification of documents.
What Should I Do if I’m A Victim?
If you are a victim of identity theft, it’s necessary to understand that you should file a police report. This can help document the theft to ensure you can recover compensation. Additionally, you’ll want to reach out to your financial institutions and one of the three major credit reporting agencies. They can help protect you from losing anything else, as they will place a freeze on your account and prevent any additional loans from being taken out in your name.
Additionally, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Loker Law, we will do everything we can to help protect you during these challenging times. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you through these times to recover your identity and pursue civil damages against the perpetrator.