Most crimes are fairly easy to detect. Your purse is stolen, or your house is broken into. Valuable items such as cash, jewelry and electronics are missing. Criminal identity theft can be harder to discover. It may take some time before you notice that someone is using your credit card or has applied for a loan in your name.
Once the crime has been found, the thief may have done enough damage to your financial life that it will take some time and headache to weed through the problems and get all of them straightened out. You will have to contact a number of companies and agencies besides your local police department to jumpstart the investigation. Fortunately, there are procedures in place to help you get your life on track after becoming a victim to criminal identity theft.
Is Identity Theft a Crime?
In recent years, the federal government, as well as numerous state governments, has passed laws making identity theft a crime. Usually the person responsible for the act has obtained access to your personal information through unscrupulous if not illegal means and is now using that information to develop a new identity with the intent of committing crimes.
Depending on what information is taken, various government agencies and financial companies may become involved. If your social security number is stolen, you will need to contact the Social Security Administration. If your credit card number is being misused, that company will need to be notified immediately. If a new credit card or loan has been opened up in your name without your authorization, the credit reporting agencies will be the place to begin your own investigation.
Criminal identity theft can leave the victim feeling vulnerable and angry, just like any other crime can. While the consolation is limited, it does help to know that you are not alone in your feelings. Many people have had criminal identity theft happen to them. The good news is that there is much information and support available out there for those who need it.
The Federal Trade Commission is a valuable resource for learning what to do in the case of criminal identity theft, as well as one official where you can report the act to help make the investigation a nationwide effort. Although the FTC does not actually do any investigating, this agency can alert the proper authorities to the presence of criminal activity involving identity theft.
Identity theft is a crime, and it should be treated as such. If you think you are the victim of criminal identity theft, do not waste any time in notifying the proper authorities of your crime. The sooner you file a report, the sooner an investigation can begin.