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What is Identity Theft?

If you recently used someone else’s personal identifying information, such as their bank routing number, their credit card number, or their driver’s license number, you have probably found yourself in trouble with the law. What may have seemed insignificant at the time, can be a serious offense.

Identity theft, a type of white collar crime, occurs when a person unlawfully uses someone else’s identifying information, such as their birth certificate, driver’s license number, Social Security number, passport, health insurance information, bank account number, credit card number etc. without their permission.

Identity thieves steal other people’s personal information in order to:

  • Cash checks
  • Obtain credit cards
  • Obtain loans
  • Have mail re-routed
  • Use debit cards to make purchases
  • Get auto loans and mortgages
  • Receive medical services
  • Commit immigration fraud
  • Purchase merchandise
  • Rent apartments and homes
  • Obtain a driver’s license
  • Impersonate victims if they come into contact with the police

Identity theft can happen anywhere, at any time. Often, people who work in jobs where they have access to Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and driver’s license numbers, such as at medical offices, will steal patients’ information, thereby committing identity theft.

Also, servers at restaurants and retail clerks can steal people’s credit card information. Or, it can be committed by caregivers in nursing homes who have access to seniors’ financial account information.

Identity thieves are often teens or adult children who have access to their parents’ financial account information. In this digital society, it’s easy for almost anyone to commit identity theft.

Is identity theft a state or federal crime?

In the United States, we have state-level and federal crimes. Some offenses are solely criminalized under federal law, whereas others are criminalized under both state and federal law, as is the case with identity theft.

When an offense, such as identity theft is criminalized under state and federal law, generally it is up to the state and federal prosecutors to decide whether to prosecute the offender in state or federal court.

On the state level, identity theft is covered under Section 13-2008 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Under this section, identity theft is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3.75 years in prison.

On the federal level, identity theft is criminalized under 18 U.S. Code § 1028, which covers an array of offenses related to identity theft, some of which are punishable by a fine and up to 15 years in prison.

Experience is Critical in the Courtroom

Whether you’re facing state or federal charges for identity theft, experience counts in the courtroom. Contact the Law Offices of Joshua S. Davidson, PLC to work with a former prosecutor who handles state and federal defense. We are available 24/7 to take your call.