Earlier this month members of the ITRC team, in an effort to promote greater education and unity of effort in the fight against identity theft, made a visit to Vancouver, BC, where Canada's newest non-profit organization, CITSC (Canadian Identity Theft Support Centre) is nearly ready to hard launch their victim assistance center. Much like the ITRC here in the States, CITSC is an organization whose primary objective is to provide no-cost assistance to victims of identity theft and financial fraud. The two organizations have been closely collaborating for several months in order to share intelligence and experience, to make CITSC's transition to a fully functioning national non-profit go more smoothly. While in Vancouver, ITRC representatives engaged with CITSC to complete live training exercises with actual victims.
Victims of Identity theft are confronted with a problem that is unique among victims of crime in the US. Unlike more traditional crimes, a victim of identity theft is forced to prove his or her innocence; not to one group or entity but to many. With identity theft, it will be assumed the victim is really the perpetrator until proven otherwise. As one tries to sort through the damage and clear their name, it is imperative that a victim knows the rights they have under the law, and where to go for legal resources and assistance in their efforts to get past this problem.
So you've discovered that you're a victim of identity theft, and you need to file a criminal complaint with law enforcement. Having a clear understanding of what your expectations should be in dealing with law enforcement, and what their role is and should be in mitigating the damage to your identity will give you the best chance of successfully cleaning up your good name.
A majority of identity theft cases never make it to court. If they do, you'll want to arrive armed with the knowledge of what your rights are and what tools the law allows you to use to rectify your identity theft issue. Keep in mind, as you read this information, that each case is unique. What one victim experiences may not be your experience, even within the same jurisdiction and court. This general information is not meant to take the place of legal advice from an attorney, or advice from a DA victim assistance counselor. However, it might help you understand the complexities of the judicial process.
Last month, State Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the creation of a new law enforcement unit to address the growing problems associated with identity theft and cybercrime. According to the F.T.C., California has the most identity theft complaints of any state (over a million complaints annually), and the third highest number per-capita. Known as the California e-Crime Unit, this new law enforcement group will include a group of 20 investigators and prosecutors whose sole responsibility will be to prosecute cybercrime.