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With more than 200,000 cases recorded in  France  each year, you are more likely to be the victim of identity theft than burglary or car theft!

What is identity theft?

The Penal Code defines identity theft   as the act of taking the name of a third party in circumstances which have determined or could have determined against the latter criminal proceedings. This must be the name of an existing third party. If the name of a deceased person has been taken, then we no longer speak of identity theft but of identity theft. One can usurp the name of a person, but also all the elements of the identity of this one.

When is it punishable?

Identity theft will only be punished if it has served as a support for the commission of an offence: theft, defamation, fraud, scam… Moreover, even if the usurpation has been discovered in time, the usurper will be incriminated since it will have exposed the usurped third party to criminal risk.

The techniques of the usurpers

The most common technique is flight. This technique allows usurpers to obtain a great deal of personal information: name, address, bank details, etc. Some usurpers even go so far as to search the trash cans to obtain personal information. One of the most widespread techniques on the Internet is “fishing” (phishing): the usurper sends e-mails to people pretending to be a representative of a company in order to obtain personal data. Finally, there remains the good old technique of the telephone survey.

How to avoid it?

Caution is the best asset. An Internet user must be extremely careful when using a computer accessible to other users. It is therefore strongly advised not to connect to the bank’s website via a public computer. It is also advisable to tear up your bills and bank statements before throwing them in the trash. Finally, you must avoid communicating personal data to a stranger by telephone and only communicate them to people you trust, such as your banker.

How to react ?

The first thing to do is to go to the police station closest to your home to file a complaint against X and report the loss or theft of an identity document. If a certain sum of money has been stolen from your bank account, your bank will require the receipt of the complaint before reimbursing the stolen sums. In the event of identity theft, the person claiming to be the victim of the crime will have a period of three years from the date of the identity theft.

What does the usurper risk?

It all depends on the offense that was committed during the identity theft. At most, the usurper is liable to a 5-year prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros. Additional penalties may also be pronounced: prohibition of civic and civil rights, with, for example, prohibition of the right to vote.
DAMY law firm , Nice, Identity theft: how to protect yourself? 2022 Update