Christopher A. Wellborn, P.A. South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney | Over 25 Years Experience
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Understanding identity theft

South Carolina residents can be charged with a number of white collar crimes. One of the most common is identity theft. This occurs when someone illegally obtains an individual's personal data and uses it to commit fraud, usually for financial gain or to get credit.

For example, an identity thief often steals Social Security numbers, bank account and credit card numbers, PIN numbers, mailing addresses or other types of personal data and uses the information to buy merchandise or open credit lines. Thieves can obtain the personal data by stealing mail, wallets and purses or by sifting through unshredded documents in someone's trash. Increasingly, they also obtain personal data by using the internet, credit card skimmers and other high-tech gadgets.

Identity theft can cause victims to suffer substantial financial losses. It can also destroy their credit ratings, making it difficult for them to obtain credit cards or qualify for mortgages. Because of this, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998. This law makes it a federal crime for anyone to "knowingly" transfer or use without permission another individual's personal data to commit an unlawful act. In 2004, Congress additionally passed the Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which allows for increased penalties in cases of "aggravated" identity theft. Several federal agencies are involved in the investigation and prosecution of identity theft cases, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, the Secret Service and the Postal Inspection Service.

Individuals charged with identity theft could face serious consequences if they are convicted. However, a criminal defense attorney could review the case and work on a strategy to combat the allegations.

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Christopher A. Wellborn, P.A.
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Rock Hill, SC 29730

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