What Is Identity Theft?

January 1, 2023 | By Shane Phelps Law
What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a serious crime that has federal penalties. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Keep reading to learn more.

How Identity Theft Works

Identity theft is a widespread fraud perpetrated against individuals and businesses by taking personal information in order to gain access to finances and other resources. It occurs when someone obtains another person’s personal data, such as their name, Social Security number or bank account information without their knowledge and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes.

There are many ways identity thieves illegally obtain this data, such as stealing wallets or personal mail, hacking into computers, or even creating fake websites pretending to be a legitimate business. Financial institutions and government agencies have taken notice of the rising crime rates of identity theft, implementing strict federal regulations designed to protect consumers from being victimized and punishing fraudsters found guilty of the crime.

Federal Regulations

The federal government has put comprehensive regulations in place to protect individuals from identity theft. Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, it is illegal to knowingly transfer or possess another person’s identification without their permission. In addition to this criminal law, a civil cause of action is available for victims of identity theft, including those seeking injunctive relief and damages against the responsible party.

Violations can also result in severe financial penalties, as well as possible prison sentences up to fifteen years. Therefore, individuals who are unaware of these regulations should be aware of the potential consequences for committing identity theft.

Penalties for Identity Theft

Identity theft is a growing issue, with damaging impacts to both individuals and businesses alike. To combat this issue, the US federal government has issued stringent punishments for those who commit identity theft. The punishment for identity theft will vary based upon the severity of the offense, but generally includes fines, imprisonment, or even both in some cases.

For example, a first-time offender could face up to five years in prison as well as restitution payments and repayment of any ill-gotten gains. Additionally, multiple convictions result in longer prison sentences and heftier financial penalties.

Identity Theft Defense

If you have been accused of identity theft, it’s crucial that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. Identity theft is a serious charge with harsh consequences and those accused of the crime face the criminal and social penalties including job loss, difficulty finding employment, loss of civil rights, etc.

If you have been accused of identity theft, contact Shane Phelps Law today.