The amount of identity theft crime sweeping the nation has drawn a number of high-profile government agencies into the investigation and prosecution process. We want you to know who – and what – you’re up against if you start getting their attention.
Generally speaking, there are four heavy hitters involving themselves in these types of federal cases. They are: the FTC, the Secret Service, the FBI, and the Postal Inspection Service.
Currently facing federal identity theft charges? Consulting an experienced Fort Worth federal identity theft attorney is a must. In the meantime, learn what these agencies do, how powerful they are, and the resources they have at their disposal.
The Federal Trade Commission – Governmental Watchdog
The FTC, or Federal Trade Commission, could be considered the governmental “watchdog” of the four. This is due to the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), which grants them one of the broadest authorizations of investigative powers on the books.
Here are their primary duties concerning identity theft:
- Encourage consumer reporting of suspicious activity.
- Serve as the “clearing house for identity theft complaints.”
- Alert the other agencies to suspicious activity in the national marketplace.
- Provide law enforcement and other investigators with insider resources and data tools aiding in criminal investigations.
- Share information with the public.
According to the FTCA, these guys have the power to compile evidence on “the organization, business, conduct, practices, and management of any person” affecting trade.
So, when you steal someone’s identity for the purpose of financial gain, there’s virtually no way to avoid automatically coming into this info-gathering powerhouse’s scope.
The U.S. Secret Service – Expert Witnesses
Most people associate the Secret Service with protecting the president, his family, and other government officials. However, its original purpose was actually investigating and preventing counterfeiting.
Today, the U.S. Secret Service safeguards our national financial systems. They combat identity theft by partnering with the other agencies in the following ways:
- They utilize the FTC’s tools and databases.
- They partner with the U.S. Postal Investigation Service on fighting mail fraud activities like “dumpster diving.”
- They work with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on larger-scale identity theft like gas pump card skimming.
They play a pivotal role in providing the forensics, investigative, and analytics experts needed in nearly all federal cybersecurity investigations.
The FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service – The Enforcers
Of the four, the Federal Bureau of Investigation are the primary enforcers of the law. They are known worldwide for busting large-scale data breaches and suspected terrorism operations; and they provide a policing component for the investigative agencies above.
FBI agents bridge the gap among federal, state, and local law enforcement via dedicated task forces, and have the authority to make actual arrests.
The United States Postal Inspection Service specifically addresses crimes involving the fraudulent use of the U.S. postal system. This agency is comprised of 1,200-plus inspectors stationed around the country. Their primary purpose is identity theft prosecution, and they maintain two roles:
- Investigate suspicious activity involving U.S. mail and its services.
- Enforce the hundreds of federal laws addressing mail fraud crimes.
“Mail cops” may not seem as ominous as the FBI, who you typically think of in identity theft crime busts, but these agents actually do have the power to arrest you as well.
Ultimately, coming under the scrutiny of any of these federal investigators could be an intimidating experience to say the least.
Get caught on camera sliding in a gas pump skimmer, or target the wrong senior citizen in your phone scam, and talking your way out of federal prison time might be a little more difficult than you thought.
Don’t get caught up in identity theft crimes in the first place.
If you do, don’t face your federal identity theft charges alone.
It’s imperative you have the right legal counsel to help you navigate through this complicated network of heavy-hitting investigative teams.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.