In Pennsylvania, the crime of identity theft is governed under PA Statute Title 18 Pa. C.S. 4120. Identify theft, under the PA Statute is defined as, using, for an unlawful purpose, identifying information of another person without their consent. This definition includes, among various other things, the use of computer information, forgery, and bad checks. In today’s blog your Allegheny County Criminal Lawyers discuss identity theft and the things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
The Attorney General of the state of Pennsylvania is responsible for protecting and enforcing the laws against individuals who engage in identity theft. Though the Attorney General is dedicated to prosecuting such criminals for breaking the law, the impact of this crime can have a negative impact on the lives of the victims of identity theft.
Victims can have their credit destroyed, their bank accounts wiped out, and their credit cards maxed out. Recovering from this damage can take years, and can be quite a difficult process. In order to avoid finding yourself in a situation in which you are trying to recover after you are victim of identity theft, it is in your best interest that you become aware of this crime and understand the best ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
In order to protect yourself, the first thing you should do is to destroy and shred all documents before throwing them away in the trash. Any document which includes your name, social security number, bank account numbers, or any similar information should be cut up into small pieces before being put in the garbage because you never know into whose hands that piece of paper could end up. Another thing that you can do with relative ease is make sure that you have unique passwords for all online accounts you have. Keep your passwords a secret and never write them in a place where they can be seen by others.
The last piece of advice I can give you is to be very careful about with whom and via what means you share your personal information. You can of course share this information with your spouse or a close family member, but never provide them with this information via an email or text message. If you are going to provide them with a password to your online bank account, for example, provide them with this information in person, as it is the only way you can be sure that no one else might intercept your private information.
If your wallet has been lost or stolen and you believe you are at risk to become a victim of identity theft, the first thing you need to do is cancel all cards and notify all banks. Additionally, if your social security card was in your wallet, notify the Social Security Administration. Even if the credit cards weren’t used when stolen, it is highly advisable to check your credit report often just to be sure.
Identity theft is a serious crime, so be sure that you protect yourself from becoming a victim of Pennsylvania identity theft. Take the proper steps to protect yourself and if you have been a victim, make sure you report the crime to the PA Attorney General so the criminal will not go unpunished.