When my husband I decided to start a business, we didn't think about the legal aspects of doing so. We didn't realize that purchasing business insurance, getting building permits and making investments all required some type of legal advice. But after speaking to a close friend, who also happens to own a small business, we contacted a business attorney. Now, we have the legal smarts to make the best decisions for our business, as well as the legal representation in case something happens to our company. I hope that you find my blog helpful and informative for your own business. It's a great resource for finding the legal advice, resources and guidance you need to get your company up and running.
Identity theft is a major crime that can ruin the life of a person. It leaves people scrambling to recover their personal details, get out of potential financial ruin, or even take steps to avoid losing their homes. Taking over someone's identity is a major offense and can result in criminal prosecution. However, there are different levels of identity theft, and not all cases will result in a prosecution. You should understand what identity theft is, the ways it can be perpetrated, and how to avoid engaging in this behavior yourself. Here is what you need to know:
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when another person's identifying information is used to steal money, goods, services, or anything else. Most states will prosecute at the state level, and it can be prosecuted federally as well.
There are two forms of identity theft. The fraudulent use of identifying information, or possessing the information at all, is when you obtain another person's bank account information, driver's license information, social security number, or birth date. Any time you use this information for nefarious purposes, you can face identity theft charges.
The other type of identity theft is the unauthorized transfer of identifying information. This happens when you steal credit or debit card information from someone else. You can face identity theft even if you just write down the account numbers.
What Are the Penalties When You Commit Identity Theft?
Each state will have its own laws when it comes to punishing someone for committing identity theft. In general, anyone who commits identity theft can face both civil and criminal penalties. You can go to jail, pay fines, and face providing restitution to those who were victimized. Your penalty will depend on how severe your actions were. You may also face harsher charges if you have a prior criminal record. If this is your first crime, you may receive a misdemeanor rather than a felony charge. In more severe or egregious cases of identity theft, you can go to prison. You may also have to pay punitive damages to those you victimized.
Some instances of identity theft can be categorized as aggravated. This charge can come with even more severe penalties. A case of aggravated identity theft occurs when you steal the identity of what is considered a protected class. A protected class may include a person who is disabled and is unable to care for themselves, stealing a deceased person's identity, an elderly person, or anyone who is unable to manage their own information.
If you are facing an identity theft charge, work with a criminal defense attorney to ensure you only receive an appropriate charge based on your crime. You should only receive a punishment that is commensurate with your level of crime.