Identity Theft
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Los Angeles Identity Theft Lawyer

Identity Theft. Identity theft is a violation of laws with a likelihood of imprisonment and/or damages. The most common form of identity theft is the unauthorized use of a credit card. Unfortunately the use of the Internet in identity theft adds a level sophistication typically planned by the perpetrator who seeks to cover their tracks. Therefore, it is likely that the government may target an innocent individual whom the perpetrator diverted to as a cover. Moreover, many attorneys do not have the background and/or knowledge to successfully defend or sue a perpetrator of Internet identity theft. Someone accused of Internet identity theft needs the expertise of a strong Internet attorney. Our attorneys are equally adept at suing perpetrators and defending clients wrongfully accused.

What is Identify Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person's personally identifying information, like a person's name, Social Security number, or credit card number, or other financial information, without permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

Victim of Identity Theft?

In the event that your identity has been is stolen, you need to act swiftly to stop any further damage and repair your credit. Here is what to do if your identity has been stolen:

  1. You should file a police report as soon as possible. This gives you certain legal rights when reporting the identity theft to creditors or credit agencies.
  2. Contact all three credit bureaus and place them on fraud alert. A fraud alert prevents someone else from opening "instant credit" in your name.
  3. Notify your creditors of the suspected identity theft and close any accounts that have been opened fraudulently, as well as any accounts that have been tampered with.
  4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. They use complaints to track patterns of fraud, which can help them identify and prosecute identity thieves.
  5. Consider requesting a credit freeze from the three credit bureaus. A credit freeze puts your credit on "lockdown" so nobody (including you) can open credit in your name.

Wex Law can provide assistance investigating certain types of identity theft. Our attorneys cannot predict the outcome of a case with any certainty. On many occasions there is a likelihood to prevail in civil action if the perpetrator is identified. On the other hand, the perpetrator(s) may be a very sophisticated which would make our challenge more difficult and thereby reducing the success rate of prevailing in any action. One thing we can agree on is that you will need a strong Internet attorney.

California Identity Theft Laws

Jurisdiction for Identity Theft Cases - California Penal Code section 786. Jurisdiction for a criminal action concerning identity theft may be in either the county where the theft occurred, the county where the information was illegally used, or the county in which the victim resided at the time. If multiple identity theft offenses occur in multiple jurisdictions involving the same defendant(s) and the same or substantially similar scheme, then jurisdiction for all offenses is proper in any one of the counties where an offense occurred.

Criminal Profiteering and Identity Theft - California Penal Code section 186.2. This law adds the theft of personal identifying information to the offenses specified as criminal profiteering activity and patterns of criminal profiteering activity.

Debt Collection: Business Identity Theft Victim Rights - California Civil Code sections 1788.2 and 1788.18. This law provides a firm, association, organization, partnership, business trust, company, corporation, or limited liability company with the same rights as an individual to contest any debt that has resulted from identity theft.

Debt Collection: Identity Theft Victim Rights - California Civil Code section 1788.18. This law is intended to help identity theft victims deal with debt collectors who are trying to collect debts incurred by the thief. It requires a debt collector to stop collection when an alleged debtor furnishes a police report of identity theft and other information on his status as an identity theft victim. If a collector ultimately determines that the information fails to establish that the consumer is not responsible for the debt, the collector has to notify the consumer of that determination and its basis before proceeding with collection. The bill also helps identity theft victims clear up their records by requiring debt collectors who cease collection activities to notify the creditors and consumer credit reporting agencies to which the collector previously provided adverse information.

Document Making Devices and Identity Theft - California Penal Code section 483.5. This law prohibits the possession of document-making devices with intent to use them to manufacture, alter, or authenticate a deceptive identification document. Conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Financial Crime Surveillance Photos and Video - California Government Code section 7480. This law provides that a law enforcement agency may request, and a bank, credit union, or savings association must then provide, surveillance photographs and video recordings of a person accessing a crime victim's financial account via an ATM or from within the financial institution, as specified.

Foster Youth Identity Theft - California Welfare and Institutions Code section 10618.6. This law requires county welfare departments to check for credit files of foster youth as specified and to make arrangements for remediating any indications of identity theft in the files.

High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program - California Penal Code sections 13848-13848.4. This law establishes the High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program funds five regional Identity Theft Units and five High Technology Regional Crimes Task Forces. Each regional unit is comprised of local law enforcement and prosecutors from at least two counties and includes at least one state law enforcement agency investigator, as well as federal investigators and prosecutors. The law also establishes the High Technology Crime Advisory Committee, composed of members representing various governmental agencies and professional organizations, for the purpose of advising on the High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program Trust Fund to regional task forces.

Identity Theft Crime Statistics - California Penal Code section 13012.6 This law requires the Department of Justice to include information on arrests for identity theft crimes in the annual report on criminal statistics provided to the Governor.

Identity Theft Jurisdiction - California Penal Code section 786. This law provides that the jurisdiction of a criminal action for identity theft, as defined in Penal Code section 530.55, includes the county where the theft of the information occurred, the county in which the victim resided, and the county where the information was used for an illegal purpose.

Identity Theft: Victim Access to Records on Fraudulent Transactions or Accounts - California Civil Code section 1748.95, Financial Code sections 4002 and 22470. Similar to California Penal Code section 530.8, these laws require certain types of financial institutions and other businesses to release (to a victim with a police report or to the victim's law enforcement representative) information and evidence related to identity theft. See the similar provisions in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, section 609(e).

Identity Theft - California Penal Code sections 530.5-530.8. These code sections define the specific crime of identity theft, require the law enforcement agency in the victim's area to take a police report, allow a victim to get an expedited judicial ruling of factual innocence, require the Department of Justice to establish a database of identity theft victims accessible by law enforcement and victims, and require financial institutions to release information and evidence related to identity theft to a victim with a police report or to the victim's law enforcement representative. The sections establish penalties for the crime, including enhanced penalties for several groups 1) those with previous identity theft convictions, 2) those acquiring or possession personal information of 10 or more people, and 3) those who sell or otherwise convey personal information with knowledge that it will be used to commit identity theft.

Identity Theft Conspiracy/DMV - California Penal Code sections 182 and 529.7. Courts can impose fines of up to $25,000 on individuals convicted of felony conspiracy to commit ID theft. This law also makes it a misdemeanor for any unauthorized person to obtain (or assist another person in obtaining) a driver's license, identification card, vehicle registration certificate, or other official document issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, with the knowledge that the person obtaining the document is not entitled to it.

Identity Theft: Records in "Criminal" Identity Theft - California Penal Code sections 853.5-853.6, California Vehicle code sections 40303, 40305, 40305.5, 40500 and 40504. This law helps victims clear their records when an identity thief is arrested using the victim's name. It establishes a procedure for a victim to contest a charge by submitting a thumbprint for comparison with the thumbprint taken at the time of arrest.

Identity Theft, Restitution - California Penal Code section 1202.4. This law authorizes courts to award restitution for expenses of monitoring an identity theft victim's credit report and for the costs to repair the victim's credit for a period of time reasonably necessary to make the victim whole, as specified.

Identity Theft Victim's Rights Against Claimants - California Civil Code section 1798.92-1798.97. This law protects identity theft victims who are being pursued for collection of debts which have been created by identity thieves. The law gives identity theft victims the right to bring an action against a claimant who is seeking payment on a debt NOT owed by the identity theft victim. The identity theft victim may seek an injunction against the claimant, plus actual damages, costs, a civil penalty, and other relief.

Search Warrant - California Penal Code section 1524. This law helps law enforcement in investigating identity theft cases by permitting a magistrate in the victim's county of residence to issue a search warrant for persons or property located in another county when the warrant is related to the identity theft.

Statute of Limitations - California Penal Code section 803. This bill gives victims, law enforcement, and prosecutors a reasonable opportunity to discover and investigate the crime of identity theft by specifying that the statute of limitations for the crime (and publicly filing a false or forged document) commences when the crime was discovered, instead of when it was committed.

Identity Theft State Statutes

Every state has at least one law regarding identity theft or impersonation. Twenty-nine states, Guam, and the District of Columbia have specific restitution provisions for identity theft. Three states—Iowa, Kentucky and Tennessee—have forfeiture provisions for identity theft crimes. Eleven states—Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia—have created identity theft passport programs to help victims from continuing identity theft. See chart below.

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