Identity theft: 3 facts to know

You were on a computer placing an order when you heard a knock on the door. Moments later, you found yourself being accused of stealing someone else’s information to make your purchases.

You only input information you had been given for your purchase, but you’re facing allegations of stealing that information for your own personal gain. While you may be able to resolve the problem with a call to the party who had lent you their account information, it’s not always that easy. Identity theft is handled very seriously in the United States because of its potential to ruin someone’s finances.

1. Identity theft has had laws against it since 1998

Although it may seem like identity theft has become most prominent in the 2000s, there have been laws against identity theft since 1998. The 1998 law, named the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, finally made it a federal offense to unlawfully use another person’s identification with the intent to commit a crime. In 2004, another law, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, took aim at aggravated identity theft offenses. These penalties are used against those who commit felonies with the use of another person’s identity.

2. Identity theft doesn’t just involve credit cards

While internet crimes involving identity theft often involve credit cards, they’re not the only offenses that take place. Social Security numbers can end up compromised. Bank account numbers may surface on the internet for others to steal. Names, Medicare numbers, birth certificates, addresses, passport numbers, financial account numbers, passwords and other information can all end up compromised, leading to criminal activity.

3. Identity theft is on the rise

Between 2010 and 2015, the total recorded number of identity theft reports close to doubled. That’s only considering reported incidences, so the true number of offenses may be much higher.

Identity theft is a serious crime, so if you’re charged, know your rights. No one should face allegations without a strong support and defense.