What is Identity Theft?
According to the Florida Office of the Attorney General, identity theft is a criminal act where someone takes another person's identity for the following purposes and more:
- Obtaining credit cards
- Obtaining credit
- Stealing cash from the victim's bank account
- Applying for a loan
- Establishing an account with a utility company
- Leasing an apartment or a house
- Leasing or financing an automobile
- Filing for bankruptcy
- Obtaining a new job
- Obtaining Social Security benefits
- Obtaining tax refunds
An identity thief can use the victim's identity to obtain credit cards and medical insurance, state benefits, obtain passports, or driver's licenses without the victim finding out for years, especially when the victim is not in the habit of checking their credit report for suspicious activity.
How is identity theft committed?
It's surprising how little information is needed to commit identity theft. Sometimes all it takes is a person's credit card number, Social Security number, mother's maiden name, address, or phone number and it snowballs into a complex identity theft scheme.
If the identity thief acquires a person's identifying information, they can apply for credit cards, auto loans, state benefits, and even mortgages posing as the victim.
Identity thieves are often employed at places that keep people's identifying information, such as doctors' offices, dentists, children's schools, health insurance companies, and colleges.
It is very easy for someone employed at any of these places to steal someone's identifying information, and their identity.
Is identity theft a state or federal crime?
Identity theft is a form of white collar crime and it is criminalized under state and federal law, which means you can face state or federal charges for identity theft.
If you have committed an identity theft crime that violates state and federal laws, then it will be up to the state and federal prosecutor to decide whether you will be charged in state or federal court.
On the state level, identity theft is covered under Section 817.568 of the Florida Statutes.
Under Florida law, if someone willfully and without the person's authorization uses that person's personal identifying information, they commit fraudulent use of personal identification information, a felony of the third degree, punishable by:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- A fine not to exceed $5,000
This is just one example, there are several different crimes that fall under the category of "identity theft" and they have different penalties.
If you are facing identity theft charges in West Palm Beach, you cannot sit back and wait to see what happens. Instead, contact The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. for an aggressive defense.
My office is available 24/7 to take your call and all initial consultations are free – so call today!