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What exactly is identity theft?

| Mar 29, 2021 | White Collar Crimes |

You’ve been charged with identity theft, and you’re not even sure you did anything wrong.

You’re not alone. While many people know that identity theft is a crime, few people understand what falls under the umbrella of this particular white-collar offense until they find themselves facing criminal charges.

What are some common examples of identity theft?

When most people think of identity theft, they think about someone unknown digging through trash to find credit card numbers, bank account numbers and other important information they can use to steal an identity. In reality, the most common forms of identity theft are much simpler. Consider, for example, these possible scenarios:

  • You do some digging into a prospective partner’s background and pretend to be them on certain websites so you can find out more information about their life.
  • You borrow your roomie’s debit card to cover a bill, which you’ve done before — but your roomie didn’t agree to this charge and now says you stole their card.
  • You take your significant other’s credit card to go shopping — and didn’t ask permission first because you just assumed it would be granted.
  • You start accessing your mother’s online bank account to pay her bills and buy the things she needs because you can tell she’s not handling her affairs very well anymore, but you never got the proper power of attorney paperwork in place to gain legitimate authority to do so.
  • You log into your partner’s computer and take over their online accounts on social media, posting as if you were them — and it damages their reputation.

Most cases of identity theft involve people who know each other, but that doesn’t stop a prosecutor from aggressively pursuing charges.

What are the laws on identity theft?

The passing of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998 made this crime a federal felony offense. The subsequent enactment of the Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004 instituted a mandatory 2-year penalty for repeat identity theft offenders and a 5-year one for those convicted of terrorism-related offenses. 

Like anyone charged with white-collar criminal offenses, you’re facing some pretty stiff penalties if prosecutors successfully secure a conviction in your case. An attorney can let you know what those penalties are and advise you of the importance of crafting a solid defense strategy anytime you’re facing such serious criminal charges here in Colorado Springs.  

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