The authorities are typically alerted to identity theft when someone notices a fraudulent transaction or claim made in their name.
Identity theft may occur on a massive scale with no need for the victim and perpetrator ever to meet, as most instances of this kind of wrongdoing occur on the internet. Because of this, it is quite plausible for innocent people to get dragged into cases they have nothing to do with, not just as victims but as alleged perpetrators as well.
Identity theft requires intent
Identity theft as a crime requires the intent to use someone’s personal information to commit fraud. Or, if you were merely passing the information on, to know that the person you gave it to intended to commit fraud with it.
If you’re under suspicion of wrongdoing
Let’s say you work in a store, and a customer handed you their card momentarily. Or that you have legitimate access to a company’s database of client information. If someone later discovers that fraudulent transactions or applications have been made from their accounts, the authorities may think you had something to do with it. They may reason that you had that information in your hands at one point, so you may have either carried out the fraud or knowingly passed on the information for someone else to commit fraud with it.
However, the state will need to prove that you had intent to commit this offense before you can be justifiably convicted of it. Even if you obtained personal information illegally, such as through hacking a system just to show you could, it does not necessarily mean that you committed identity theft, although you could face other serious charges.
Investigators often try to link up the dots to create lines between two things that have no connection. If they have wrongly linked you to identity theft, it’s crucial to learn more about your options to prove them wrong. Contacting an attorney right away is, therefore, very important.