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 Lynwood theft crimes 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.