Legal Information in a Background Check

Background Checks. Although the word may seem scary, this is not something to be feared. In fact, it’s a normal part of life, and at some point everybody will have a background check done on them. There are a multitude of reasons why a background check could be done reasons varying from a new job, before moving into a new apartment or condominium and more. And although you have no control what appears on the background check report (your history is your past, and there’s very little you can do to change the past), you do have the right to protect your privacy by knowing what is legal and what is not legal information on a background check report.

A background check usually contains a lot of different information. Most of the information is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) but sometimes you may find information that seems either out of place or unnecessary. There are people that legally can have all the information, for example, any jobs involving the government, FBI or police. In those cases, the government is allowed to know all information because it is in regards to national safety. In all other cases where the government is not involved, access to that information is denied. An important step to ensuring your privacy is by asking what information is requested on the background check. If the employer or renter (or whomever) gives an unclear answer or disregards the question all together, have them write down exactly what information they are looking for. That way, if something on the background check shows up that was not originally communicated; you are able to take the appropriate steps to clear things up.

Every company has different policies on what information they need. The general standard check can include any or all of the following; felony and misdemeanor arrest and conviction charges, education and professional license verifications, employment checks, social security verifications, sexual offender checks, motor vehicle reports, federal criminal checks, reference checks, civil litigation, OIG database, federal bankruptcy and many others. There is also an industry standard to how long this information can be used for hire. The FCRA also states that a company can go back seven years for hire. Any older information is declared illegal and must be discarded.

If by some off chance you do end up finding information there are steps you can take. The best step is to have a conversation with the other party, and for the most part, any problem that you may have can be solved easily. Furthermore, if the problem still hasn’t been solved, try consulting a lawyer. If the information provided is old and past the seven year scope, there is legal action that can be taken.

When a company or person requires a background check it is important to know your rights regarding your privacy. If you suspect that there is illegal information on your background check report, there actions you can take so that you are protected.

Defining Identity Theft

With modern technology, identity theft has become easier to commit by the minute. Identity theft refers to when someone uses someone else’s personal identifying information such as their name, social security number, checking routing number, or their credit card number, without their consent with the intention to commit fraud or any other crime.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), approximately 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Often times the victim is not aware they are the victim of identity theft until months or years afterwards, when their credit and their reputation have already been damaged.

Identity theft thieves use other people’s identifying information to commit a broad range of crimes. They may use the information to rent an apartment, obtain a credit card or checking account, or establish a cell phone or cable account in the victim’s name. The victim doesn’t usually find out they have been a victim of identity theft until it’s too late, or until they have been contacted by a creditor.

Identity theft begins when the thief acquires personal identifying information such as another person’s social security number, driver’s license number, or credit card. It doesn’t matter if the victim is dead or alive; it’s still a criminal offense and is prosecuted to the full extent of the law when the perpetrator is caught. Personal information can be illegally acquired in a variety of ways including:

Skimming – This occurs when a special devise is used to steal a credit or debit card number when processing the person’s card.

Changing the Victim’s Address – The person changes the victim’s address by mailing in a change of address form. As a result, the billing statements are diverted to another location.

Theft – This is the oldest type of theft in the book. This refers to stealing the victim’s purse, or wallet, pre-approved credit card offers, new checks or other tax information.

Dumpster Diving – This refers to rummaging through someone’s trash to find bills, bank statements, voided checks etc. with identifying information on them.

Phishing – The thieves pretend to be a financial institution such as the victim’s bank, or a credit card company and send spam to try and get the person to reveal their social security number or bank account information etc.

Pretexting – The thief uses false pretenses to obtain personal information from a bank, credit card company, telephone company and other sources.

Identity theft is taking very seriously in all fifty states. In Washington, there are two levels of identity theft. How they are prosecuted depends upon value of the credit, money, goods, or services that were taken. If the value of the goods or services etc. obtained through someone else’s identity were valued more than $1500, it is prosecuted as a Class B felony. For any goods or services obtained below the value of $1500, it is prosecuted as a Class C felony and the penalties range from up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine up to $20,000, or both. If you have been charged with identity theft, it’s critical to enlist the services of an aggressive defense attorney as early as possible. An attorney will be able to investigate every aspect of your case and negotiate with the prosecutor, the judge, or jury on your behalf when it comes to sentencing.

Computer Crimes and Federal Offenses

If you are under investigation for a computer crime, or if you have already been arrested for such an offense, you are probably under a great deal of stress. Computer crimes involve a wide range of activities that are otherwise illegal. When people use a computer or the internet to further commit such crimes, then they are categorized as computer or internet crimes.

These days, nearly every aspect of our society is digitalized. People can download movies, apply for a credit card, transfer balances between accounts, and pay their bills all with the touch of a button. The expanding functions of the internet have opened a whole new world to criminal outlets and activities. Criminals are finding new ways to break the law at a pace that law enforcement is struggling to keep up with. Because computers have such a large impact on society as a whole, federal prosecutors waste no time or expense in securing criminal convictions against the individuals who commit such crimes. In fact, the federal government has entire task forces devoted to tracking down and arresting people who commit these types of crimes.

What categorizes a computer or internet crime? One common aspect of computer crimes involves financial fraud and money laundering schemes. Other financial crimes committed via the internet include credit and debit card fraud, hacking and identity theft.

Computer crimes also involve harassment, spamming, phishing, and sex crimes against children. People who possess child pornography on their home or work computer, and people who distribute child pornography via the internet are in violation of the law. Unfortunately, internet crimes involving children can oftentimes be a case of mistaken identity. Perhaps you were not aware that the images were of minors, or perhaps someone else used your computer. Revealing the truth of what actually happened will be dependent upon the highly investigative tactics of an experienced defense attorney.

Because these crimes typically cross state lines, they are often classified as federal offenses. If you are under investigation for a federal crime, you could have a large government entity assisting your local law enforcement agency. This means that the prosecution will have unlimited manpower and means to pursue a conviction. If you want to effectively protect your legal rights, you are going to need the assistance of a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney on your side. Your lawyer will have a wealth of proven defense tools at their disposal. The last thing you would want to do is hire an inexperienced or apprehensive lawyer when you are fighting to preserve your reputation and your freedom. If you are under investigation for a computer crime, don’t hesitate to contact a federal criminal defense attorney immediately.

The Consequences of Stealing – Theft and the Law

Theft can include armed robbery, burglary, theft by check, forgery, unauthorized use of a vehicle, fraud, false statement to a credit agency, shoplifting and the list goes on. The consequences for stealing range from a Class C misdemeanor to felony charges, usually depending on the monetary value of what was taken. If the value of the stolen item is under $1,500 then the perpetrator will most likely be convicted of a misdemeanor. This can result in a simple fine and/or community service, but could also involve jail time, depending on the circumstances. If the item stolen was of great value, the accused will most likely be charged with a felony and will have to serve prison time. At the time of a hearing the court will be notified if there is more than one offense on the suspect’s record and this will also affect the sentencing. People who steal generally do not do it just one time.

It is important to note that in some states, stealing of any kind is considered a “crime of moral turpitude”. This means the act of stealing is not a favorable action in community standards of justice, honesty or good morals. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will have a permanent criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. This can have negative effects on the wrongdoer’s character personally, legally and with future employment opportunities.

One of the most common forms of stealing is shoplifting. Shoplifting is the deliberate act of taking an unpaid item from a place of business and it happens more than we are aware. A person can be convicted of shoplifting even if they don’t walk out of the store, but are found with hidden merchandise in their possession. In some states, there is even a “law of Parties” meaning that if you are with a friend who is caught stealing in a retail establishment, you can also be prosecuted even though you didn’t intend on stealing. An average of $10 billion dollars’ worth of goods is stolen from retail businesses each year. The numbers and statistics are staggering. We all pay the price for people who commit these acts by having to pay more for products when companies pad prices to recuperate losses from shoplifters. The law does not look kindly on people who shoplift.

Bottom line, stealing is never a good idea and can land you in a world of trouble. It will affect the offender in many negative ways for the rest of their lives. Stealing also affects everyone in the community, in one way or another, which is why the laws are harsh. Thieves may think that they can get away with stealing, but eventually they will get caught and will be forced to face severe consequences.

Charges of Property Crimes

Property crimes are any criminal violation that results in the destruction or theft of the personal property of another individual. Ranging from vandalism to petty theft to burglary to arson, property crimes can lead to serious penalties for those who are convicted. The first major type of property crime is theft. This is simply defined as taking something that does not belong to you with the intention of never returning the item or items. Theft is a broad category of crimes and each specific offense is usually classified by how much was stolen or if there were any aggravating factors involved, such as violence or the use of a deadly weapon. Depending on what state the offense was committed in, petty theft is usually any theft of property under the amount of $500 or $1,000. Grand theft is any theft above that amount.

Another type of property crime is burglary. Although often thought of as solely a theft crime, burglary is breaking and entering for the purpose of committing a crime, any crime. This could be a home or a business premise and the law was designed to protect people from unlawful entry, even if nothing was stolen. Another aspect of burglary is that the perpetrator had the intent of committing a crime. This means that even if their attempts were thwarted, they can still be prosecuted and convicted. Another aspect of this crime to remember is that breaking and entering does not have to include physical force. While it can mean that a window was broken or a lock picked, it could also mean that one of the inhabitants was threatened or blackmailed into letting the burglar into their home.

Two other types of property damage that do not involve theft are arson and vandalism. Arson is the burning of a home or business. This crime is always charged as a felony as there is the real possibility that someone may be injured. Even if the building was completely empty, the fire may spread to surrounding areas and lead to loss of life and property damage. Whether this is committed out of revenge, for insurance purposes, or another reason, arson is a serious charge in every U.S. state. Vandalism is another crime that focuses on the destruction of property in varying degrees. From egging to graffiti to keying a car, any offender could be facing large fines and even jail time. If you were charged with any type of property crime, your first step should be to get in touch with a legal representative. No matter how hopeless you believe your case to be, having the right attorney on your side could make all the difference in the outcome of your case.