In the modern world of cyber crimes and stolen data, most people have heard of identity theft and try to protect themselves from it in at least a few minimal ways. Identity theft is the boogie man of unvoided checks, hacked business databases, spyware lurking on your computer. Of course, whether or not you shred your unused checks or regularly reinstall your operating system, identity theft can theoretically happen to anyone and we all know it. There are simply too many places with most of your pertinent information and, in fact, there is only one piece of data required for identity theft that is not public knowledge.
However, something that most people don’t realize is that identity theft, the big fear of personal finances and account management, isn’t the only kind of identity-based crime. Rather, it is simply the most pronounced of an entire category of criminal activity unsurprisingly known as identity crimes. These include not just the Identity Theft, in which people pretend to be you in order to abuse your finances or good name, but also identity fraud and something unusual known as synthetic identity theft.
What Exactly is Identity Theft?
You’ve heard a lot of horror stories but in the eyes of the law, identity theft is committed any time one person uses another person’s identification in the act of a crime or aiding and abetting a crime. Of course, using someone else’s bank account is always a crime, whether or not you’re pretending to be that person. To commit identity theft, you only need about five pieces of information, though more is always helpful.
What You Need for Identity Theft
- First and Last Name
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number
- Home Address
- Mother’s Maiden Name
What’s really disturbing is that everything but your social can be discovered simply by looking into public records. Your name, birthday, and mother’s maiden name are all perfectly public information and addresses aren’t difficult to find once you have that much information. Other forms of information identity thieves can use is your bank account and card information, your insurance account number, or, in fact, the information for any account that can process money.
So What’s Identity Fraud, Then?
Identity theft is actually a sub-section of identity fraud which includes any use of unauthorized identification to perform a false transaction. In other words, fraud. Essentially, any time identifying information has been used without official permission, there is a very good chance that identity fraud has been committed. There are usually two victims of identity fraud, both the person whose identity is being falsely used and the businesses who are being tricked into entering fraudulent transactions. When the fraud is uncovered, the businesses are then stuck with either compensating the defrauded victim or soaking any losses themselves.
What About Synthetic Identity Theft?
Perhaps the most unusual of identity crimes (but the most likely to be perpetrated by teenagers) is synthetic identity theft which cuts down the number of victims to only the businesses defrauded. What makes these crimes ‘synthetic’ is that they use randomized names and numbers to represent people who do not actually exist. This is a common method for fake IDs and criminals who were either unsuccessful at stealing someone else’s identity or didn’t actually want to go that far.
Have You Been Charged with an Identity Crime?
Identity crimes can become very complex, especially in situations where there is a questionable situation of permission to use a person’s identification or to act in their name. If you have been charged with identity theft, fraud, or synthetic theft, you’ll need an experienced lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the charge. To find a white collar crimes lawyer in Minnesota to help with your identity theft case, contact us today.