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Fundamental Steps to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Terry Rogan was arrested 5 times for allegedly killing someone and robbery. He did not commit these crimes. McKandes, a man that broke out of Alabama State Prison, did. This started in 1982. McKandes had a copy of Rogan’s birth certificate and used that to obtain a driver’s license and other documents in Rogan’s name.

McKandes was still using Rogan’s identity when he robbed and murdered that same year. Because of the identity mistake, police did not know that when they put an arrest warrant out to Rogan, they wouldn’t be finding McKandes. Having an arrest warrant out for your name places you into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). This alerts all of the police departments in the United States of the outstanding warrants.

Later, Rogan was arrested in Michigan for the crimes committed by McKandes in California. Officers later found that Rogan’s fingerprints and DNA and just his basic physical features did not match the evidence entered in NCIC. Rogan was released and his name was then cleared of the criminal act.

Rogan’s issues did not subside then, though. Rogan was arrested 4 additional times between 193-1984 for crimes that he did not commit. After authorities discovered that it was not him, he was released and the problem was eventually resolved thoroughly.

It became clear that Terry Rogan was a victim of identity theft. One person used someone else’s birth certificate to completely overhaul their identity and make it their own.

Identity theft is a crime worth being afraid of. It is also worth protecting yourself against. Nobody wants to think of someone else portraying themselves as you. Important documents about you can be obtained in many forms such as mail, Internet, credit statements and more.

A Federal Trade Commission study concluded in 1995 that 93% of arrests made in the  Financial Crimes Division of the United States Secret Service have identity theft involved and caused individual and institutional losses of $442 million.

In 1994 the numbers increased to 94% of the cases and the losses of upwards to $450 million in 1996. The percentage of cases was still around 94% in 1997 but the losses continued to rise as they reached almost $745 million.

Identity theft has said to be the hottest crime committed according to the state and federal prosecutors. They believe it will become wildly more popular due to the advancement of technology. Identity theft is a major cause of financial losses for business and social security industries.

The Identity Theft & Assumption Deterrence Act was later passed by the United States Congress to control the damage caused by identity theft crimes. President William Jefferson Clinton later signed the Act when he went into law on October 30, 1998.

The Act makes identity theft a legal crime stating it is to “knowingly transfer or use, without legal authority; a means of using the identification of another individual with the intention of committing or aiding any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal State Law.”

The first major change made by this Act is that it classifies the theft or use of a person’s information wrongfully a federal crime that can be tried. Before the Act was passed, federal law only classifies the deceptive creation and the use or transfer of identification documents and NOT the actual theft or wrongful use of an individual’s personal information.

Because the criminal use of the victim’s identity causes the majority of their problems, the Act clearly defines it as a federal crime. The Act is very much accepted by the people, especially in such an age where identification documents can be obtained over the Internet.

The second major change is the definition of punishment for the thief. Below is the important information stated under this provision.

  • If the act involves unauthorized use of someone else’s driver’s license, birth certificate or other identification documents issues under the authority of the United States the convicted criminal will be fined or imprisoned for not more than 15 years.
  • If the act involves the transfer or use of one or more personal information of someone else and the offense allows the convicted criminal to obtain anything of value amounting to $1,000 or more during any one year period, the convicted criminal will be fined or imprisoned for not more than 3 years.
  • If the offenses listed above are committed in order to facilitate a drug trafficking crime or terrorist activities, the convicted criminal will be fined or imprisoned not more than 25 years.

The Act also covers aid to the individual victims of identity theft. The Act developed a centralize complaint and consumer education service for the victims and supervised development and maintenance of the service to the Federal Trade Commission.

Identity theft complaints are entered into the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse. This is a database designed to aid law enforcement agencies in disputing identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission is also asked to aid identity theft victims in resolving credit issues that arise from the illegal use of their credit funds by thieves.

By the passing of the Identity Theft & Assumption Act, we are all now provided with additional protection to avoid identity theft. If you wish, you may choose to get a lawyer to explain other provisions of this Act to you further. Help yourself with identity theft protection software like PC Cop.

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