An individual in Pennsylvania could receive criminal charges for identity theft if prosecutors believe that they obtained another person's credit card information through fraud. Because a victim of identity theft is usually unaware of the theft when it occurs, detecting the theft is much different than an investigation into a robbery or a burglary.
Some people realize that their identity has been stolen after they see unusual charges on a credit card or bank statement. Others may not notice the activity until they obtain a credit report after they have been denied credit unexpectedly. Calls from unknown businesses concerning debts and missing mail are other indications of identity theft that could lead some people to alert the authorities.
The majority of identity theft victims do not realize what has happened to them until their credit score has been ravaged by unpaid debts. Therefore, people are advised to check their credit reports regularly and inspect all financial statements for unusual activity. Although consumers can prevent some forms of identity theft, identity theft that occurs after a security breach at a bank is much more difficult for an individual to avoid.
Identity theft that takes place on the Internet can be difficult to detect, and it can be equally difficult to prosecute. A person who has become the target of an investigation into an Internet crime such as identity theft may want to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as they deem fit. An attorney may be able to begin conducting a parallel investigation and work on a defense strategy that could make a significant difference in the outcome of the case.
Source: Findlaw, "Detecting Identity Theft", December 24, 2014