Staten Island Identity Theft Crimes Lawyer
Identity theft can be a scary and frustrating crime to deal with. As a Staten Island resident, it’s important to understand your rights and legal options if you become a victim. This article provides an overview of identity theft issues specific to Staten Island, as well as tips on finding the right identity theft lawyer to assist you.
What is Identity Theft?
- Obtaining your Social Security number, bank account details, or other private data to apply for loans or credit cards in your name
- Accessing your existing accounts or devices to make unauthorized transactions
- Opening new utility accounts using your information
- Filing fraudulent tax returns to collect refunds owed to you
The thief’s intention is typically financial gain, although identity theft can also be motivated by other criminal goals. Regardless of motive, the impact on victims can be devastating – damaged credit, drained bank accounts, and long hours spent resolving the mess.
Common Identity Theft Schemes in Staten Island
- Fake social media profiles – In 2018, local lawyer Richard Luthmann was indicted for creating fake Facebook pages purporting to be real Staten Island politicians. The pages contained embarrassing photos and statements, intended to discredit the officials. Luthmann was charged with identity theft, forgery, and falsifying business records.
- Tax fraud – An identity thief files a fraudulent tax return in the victim’s name before they file their legitimate return. The thief collects the refund owed to the victim. This is a common type of identity theft, reported frequently in Staten Island as in the rest of the country.
- Driver’s license duplication – Criminals use another person’s information to obtain a duplicate driver’s license with their photo, but the victim’s details. This fake ID facilitates many other types of fraud.
- Medical identity theft – This involves using someone’s personal data to obtain medical services, prescription drugs, or insurance benefits. Victims can receive erroneous entries in their medical records and stuck with huge medical bills.
- Child identity theft – Children’s clean credit histories make them targets for ID thieves seeking to open fraudulent accounts. By the time the child applies for credit as an adult, their credit has already been ruined.
Reporting Identity Theft
If you discover you are the victim of identity theft, taking prompt action is key to minimizing the impacts. Here are important first steps:
- Contact the police – File a report with your local law enforcement. Get a copy of the report to submit to creditors and financial institutions.
- Notify banks and creditors – Report any fraudulent accounts or charges to your bank, credit card companies, utilities, etc. Close compromised accounts and dispute unauthorized transactions.
- Check credit reports – Request free annual credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to identify any accounts or entries opened in your name. Consider putting a credit freeze on your reports to block thieves.
- Report to the FTC – File an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which will investigate and connect your case to other instances of fraud.
New York Identity Theft Laws
New York State divides identity theft into three degrees, depending on severity:
- Third degree – A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. No financial threshold.
- Second degree – A Class E felony with up to four years in prison. Involves possession of skimmers, ID materials, or higher theft values.
- First degree – A Class D felony with up to seven years in prison. Highest value identity theft crimes.
Penalties increase for repeat offenders. It is also illegal in New York to possess tools and materials for committing identity theft.
Finding an Identity Theft Lawyer in Staten Island
If you are the victim of identity theft in Staten Island, a knowledgeable lawyer can help protect your rights and guide you through the process of:
- Documenting evidence and filing police reports
- Disputing fraudulent transactions and correcting your credit reports
- Freezing your credit to prevent further damage
- Recovering assets and seeking restitution
- Proving your innocence if wrongly linked to crimes
Look for a local attorney experienced in handling identity theft cases. The Staten Island Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service that can connect you with members who specialize in this area.
When researching lawyers, look for these key qualifications:
- Strong track record resolving local identity theft cases
- Familiarity with NY identity theft laws and penalties
- Ability to negotiate with banks, creditors, and law enforcement
- Litigation skills to sue identity thieves or challenge unfair claims
- Understanding of how to repair credit damage and lost funds
A skilled identity theft lawyer can make the process much less stressful. They will aggressively protect your rights and proactively mitigate the damages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you sue for identity theft in New York?
Yes, victims can pursue civil lawsuits against identity thieves in New York to recover financial losses and other damages. The statute of limitations is three years from the date of discovery.
What should I do if falsely accused of identity theft?
Immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to build your case. A lawyer can often get charges reduced or dismissed by challenging flawed evidence, false accusations, or police errors. Don’t try to talk your way out of it alone.
How can I prevent identity theft?
Key tips include:
- Shred documents with personal information before disposal
- Use complex passwords and change them frequently
- Limit use of public WiFi for shopping, banking, and entering sensitive data
- Carefully review all bank and credit card statements for any suspicious activity
- Be cautious of phone calls or emails requesting personal data
Can children be victims of identity theft?
Unfortunately yes. About one million children in the U.S. annually have their identity stolen. Check your child’s credit report for any activity and freeze their credit to prevent fraud.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, but following the right legal steps can help minimize the damage. Contact the Staten Island police and financial institutions immediately if you suspect you are a victim. Hiring an experienced local lawyer simplifies resolving identity theft issues and ensures your rights are protected. With prompt action, most victims can overcome the identity theft hurdles and restore their good name.