In today’s digital society, identity theft is an issue of national concern costing billions of dollars each and every year. The impact is so great that it is prosecuted at both state and federal levels.
Identity theft is a type of fraud where someone steals another person’s identity, typically in order to access government resources, money, or to obtain credit in that person’s name. The victims can later be held financially responsible for any money withdrawn, loans taken out, or benefits obtained from the person who stole their identity.
There are different types of identity theft. According to the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center – they have divided them into six categories: criminal (posing as another person when apprehended for a crime), financial (using another person’s identity to obtain credit, goods or services), identity cloning (assuming that person’s identity in daily life), medical (using another person’s identity to obtain medical services or medication), and child.
It can be so far-reaching as to facilitate illegal immigration, terrorism, phishing and espionage. Truthfully, the reasons for identity theft are as unique as the people who commit such crimes. Examples can include illegal immigrants, people who are hiding from collectors or people who want to remain anonymous. This can happen when people are hiding from an abusive spouse, from an organized crime organization, or even the federal government.
People can be guilty of medical identity theft when they use another person’s medical ID cards in order to obtain services. This can result in losses for the insurance company, as well as billing for services never received to the victim. Not only can medical records become confused, but the number of hours it takes administrative staff, hospital staff, insurance companies and the victim to sort out medical identity theft can be quite extensive – taking years to correct.
Child identity theft takes place when an adult uses a child’s social security number to obtain a driver’s license, credit cards, checking accounts and loans. The imposter can be a parent, another family member, or a complete stranger. Children’s social security numbers are especially appealing because they don’t have any information associated with them. In these cases, it usually takes years before the child realizes they are a victim. This type of identity theft is extremely common, and it is growing, especially in the south western states where there is a heavy saturation of illegal immigrants.
Due to the extreme financial losses associated with this situation; it is considered a federal crime and it is punished to the full extent of the law. These types of cases command the attention of the higher courts and authorities; attention that you do not want without a heavyweight criminal defense attorney fighting in your corner. Depending on the circumstances of your case – a federal identity theft conviction can be punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison. In cases where violence, or drug trafficking was involved, the defendant could face up to 30 years in prison. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain all of your options so you can know the best way to move forward with your case.
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