Identity Theft and Fraud
With the increasing amount of personal information to be found online, identity theft is a crime that is expanding in scope and occurring with greater frequency. It usually starts with a data breach, which is a wide-reaching security incident in which hackers obtain personal information personal information from a company without authorization. Companies like big box retailers and financial institutions are prime targets of data breaches.
Identity theft is a type of fraud in which a person steals another’s identifying information for personal gain. The offense usually involves taking another’s financial information to make fraudulent purchases, open credit cards or apply for loans; but can also involve assuming the other person’s identity to commit other crimes under the person’s name. As identity theft typically involves the use of the internet, these crimes usually attract the attention of federal agencies and can be charged in state and federal court. This means that one can be charge for identity theft at both the state and federal level, without facing double jeopardy. If you face charges for identity theft or fraud, seek competent legal representation immediately.
Identity Theft vs. Identity Fraud
Identity theft and fraud are terms used to describe criminal activity in which one person steals the identifying information of another, typically for economic gain. There are key differences between identity theft and identity fraud, which are both nonviolent crimes that involve fraudulent activity.
Identity theft describes the increasingly common crime of a person unlawfully gaining access to another’s personal information, including:
- Social security number
- Bank account information
- Credit card information
- Driver’s license number
- Birth certificate
These data are used without authorization to apply for credit cards, open bank accounts, obtain loans, and more. The thief may also use these data to assume the other person’s identity to commit other crimes in the person’s name. Common identity theft scenarios include the fraudulent use of debit and credit cards, claiming to be someone else at the scene of a crime, pretending to be another person for the use of his or her health insurance or other medical purpose, internet fraud, and check forgery. Criminals can steal information a number of ways, including:
- Phishing, an email scam in which criminals try to trick recipients into taking action that might give them access to personal information
- Sending malware that provides access to victims’ computers
- Employing tech-free methods like dumpster diving and stealing mail
Identity fraud is the creation of a false identity. Rather than taking another’s information, the thief invents a whole new person to open new lines of credit and other acts. A person may be charged with identity fraud without having succeeded. So long as a person’s intent was fraudulent, he or she may be charged with a crime.
Identity Theft Charges and Penalties
Identity theft can be a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on the defendant’s use of the stolen identity. There are many ways of committing identity theft and crime, and the facts of the case will determine the potential penalties. Steep fines and jail time are common in sentencing for identity theft and fraud crimes. If you face federal identity theft and fraud charges, you may be facing harsher penalties than you would at the state level. It is imperative that a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney thoroughly evaluate your case.
Common penalties for a conviction of identity theft are:
A competent defense lawyer who has successfully resolved theft cases can help you avoid a conviction and/or see reduced or eliminated penalties. The goal of your attorney should be to help you avoid a conviction and preserve your reputation. Find out how we can help you today.
Theft Offense Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach
At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, we understand the severity of the charges against you. Attorney Brian Gabriel is known throughout South Florida for his skilled criminal defense work. He has handled white collar crime cases at the state and federal level and will investigate all the elements of your case thoroughly for a powerful defense. As a National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyer, you can rest assured that he will do everything possible to weaken the prosecution’s case against you. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation, or contact us online.