man with hands in cuffs

As a victim of identity theft, it can feel as though you are alone during this process. However, it’s essential to understand that the law is on your side in these matters. As such, understanding the penalties for identity theft that someone can endure is critical to showing you that you can receive justice for the wrong you’ve endured. The following blog explores what you must know about these charges and how a San Diego County identity theft lawyer can help you through these challenging times.

How Does Identity Theft Happen?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your identifying information without your permission. In many instances, this can be used to open accounts in your name or to use your credit cards, while in other cases, it’s used to access your accounts. Generally, if someone has your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, or account login information, they can use this to pose as you and gain access to your accounts.

Thieves generally gain this information online. They can hack databases containing consumer information to use or sell to other thieves. Similarly, if you are a victim of phishing scams or mail theft, someone can access your personal information and steal your identity.

What Penalties for Identity Theft Can a Perpetrator Face?

Being the victim of identity theft can feel violating, as someone has your personal information. As such, the laws in place can help hold perpetrators liable for the damages they’ve caused. In California, identity theft is considered a “wobbler” crime. This means it can be charged as a misdemeanor, which warrants up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, you can also face a felony. The felony charge warrants up to three years in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

If the perpetrator presented your documents or played any role in falsifying them, they may face federal charges under the Identity Theft Assumption and Deterrence Act. This can warrant up to 25 years in prison.

How Can I Protect Myself?

If looking to protect yourself from being a victim of identity theft, it’s essential to understand the steps you can take. One of the most important things to remember is that websites that look unsafe or fishy should be avoided. You should not put any personal information on a website that does not look legitimate.

Additionally, you should understand that you should not access any public or unsecured wif-fi networks, as hackers can infiltrate your device wireless through these connections.

As you can see, identity theft can severely damage a person’s credit, financial security, and life. Luckily, the law is on your side and will work to hold thieves accountable for their actions. If you are the victim of identity theft and need assistance recovering after yours has been compromised, Barthel Legal can help. We understand how devastating this can be, so we will do everything possible to help you regain control of your identity. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you through these challenging times.