A bank that pursues criminal charges against an innocent third party whose identity is stolen and used to defraud the bank can be sued for negligence and malicious prosecution, an appeals court held Tuesday in a case of first impression in New Jersey.

The court, in Brunson v. Affinity Federal Credit Union, A-4439-06, ruled that financial institutions and fraud investigators have a duty to “pursue with reasonable care their responsibility for protecting not only their own customers, but non-customers who may be victims of identity theft.”

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