Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Burden of Proof with Identity Theft

Victims of identity theft often feel victimized twice when identity theft happens to them.

We are all familiar with our legal system where the burden of proof is up to the prosecution for the people and you are innocent until proven guilty.

But with identity theft you are guilty or liable until you prove your innocence.

It doesn’t really seem to make sense but if you look at the logic, it does make sense. Although it puts the victim in a difficult, tedious, and time consuming position of defending themselves while all the while feeling violated because they are a victim.

Our financial system is set up and regulated by the federal government to provide easy and convenient transactions to keep the economy moving along without interruption. You can thank federal laws that limit your exposure to credit card fraud. They enacted those laws long ago to make people feel comfortable with using credit cards when they were first introduced. If people felt liable they would have been reluctant to use the system. Now our economy is completely tied to credit.

Those laws are visible in other areas as well. Take check cashing scams for example. The thieves take advantage of federal laws that require funds for checks to be made available quickly again, to keep the flow of commerce moving. People get taken due the expediency that banks provide funds for check presented, but then find out weeks later that the check was returned as a fraudulent device. You become ultimately liable for any fraudulent check that you present for funds.

In both cases of checks or credit cards you were given the benefit of the transaction in real time while it may be quite some time before the bank or you determine fraud has occurred. In the case of credit card fraud you need to prove that you did not actually make the fraudulent charges and with a check the bank relies on you to know who you are conducting business with.

The banking system really is set to benefit you, so when something goes awry you need to prove you were not involved. Most people never consider that when they conduct transactions. Who is to say that you where not involved in a fraudulent transaction and were not colluding with the perpetrator from the start.

If you become a victim of identity theft, you are really a victim in the eyes of others only after you prove it, and that will never feel good.