The state of Texas and the federal government take identity theft very seriously. If someone steals your identity, the criminal could deplete your bank accounts and rack up large debts in your name. So it is crucial that you know the different ways someone might gain access to your sensitive information.
In addition, knowing how criminals steal the identities of people may help you to avoid accidentally getting a hold of someone else’s identifying information, which could lead to a false accusation of identity theft.
Different causes of identity theft
Findlaw explains that fraudsters can gain access to your identity through different methods. Your online accounts may have weak passwords. You could fall prey to a phishing scam by opening an email with a link that exposes your computer to a virus. If you throw away sensitive documents but fail to shred them, someone might discover them in your trash.
If you maintain records at an office, you should keep them in a secure place like a locked drawer. Only authorized people should access your computer. You should also be cautious about placing personal files on your work computer. Someone might find them on your computer or if you send them through a computer network at work by mistake.
The possibility of false accusation
It is possible you might acquire someone else’s sensitive information even though you had no intention to steal it. If you work in someone else’s office or are a roommate, you may encounter financial papers left out in the open, or you might use someone else’s computer with permission and discover username and password information.
If someone gave you consent to access important information, you have a valid defense against charges of identity theft. Intention is also important to identity theft cases. It can be harder to prove you are guilty of identity theft if you had no intention to take someone’s identity or use it for criminal purposes. Whatever approach you take in your defense will depend on the circumstances of your case.