Fraud may be a common crime, though it is not without victims and not without serious consequence. The idea of “defrauding” someone often brings to mind images of people selling fake Rolexes from open jackets on a dark street corner, but the reality of fraud is much less noticeable, even when it is happening to you. As the world continues to modernize and we increasingly rely on technology to perform all of our daily functions—including those which involve money and the transferring of funds from one account to the other—the issue of identity theft is one type of fraud that has proportionately risen in prominence. Roughly 15 million Americans are victims of identity theft annually, resulting in financial losses totally at least $50 billion. All told, nearly 7 percent of all American adults have been the victim of identity theft.
It is true that identity theft used to be a crime most often perpetrated by large criminal organizations, with the capability of sophisticated tracking and phishing technology. As technology changes, however, so does the crime perpetrated via technology. One no longer needs to be a sophisticated criminal to simply hack into someone’s account, and the data sought after by identity thieves are no longer just bank accounts. The theft or unauthorized use of a person’s cell phone line, cable service, government benefits, and financial loans are other types of common identity theft, the number of which have continued to steadily increase in recent years.
Monitoring your financial assets can help you to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. If you have already been the victim of such a crime, you can, free of charge, place a fraud alert on your credit reports and financial accounts to help avoid a similar circumstance in the future.
If you have been accused of identity theft, there are several penal codes in California that could apply to your prosecution and potential sentencing. Most carry jail time and hefty fines. You could be charged with falsely personating another, or with personal information trafficking or mail theft. You will also likely be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. If you or someone you know has been charged with such a crime, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced San Jose criminal defense attorney today.