Are you, or someone you love being accused of committing identity theft in Harrisburg? If so, it’s important that you understand what these charges mean and the long-term consequences of a conviction.
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue explains identity theft as occurring when someone uses another person’s personal identifying information to commit crimes, such as fraud. When using the other person’s identifying information, the identity thief does not obtain their permission.
There are many ways to commit identity theft, it is not limited to unlawfully using someone else’s name to commit fraud or another financially-motivated crime.
Identity theft can mean stealing someone’s name, bank account information, driver’s license number, Social Security number, checking or savings account number, passport number, electronic signature, mother’s maiden name, address etc.
Identity theft means stealing someone’s personal identifying information to:
- Obtain credit cards
- Use credit cards
- Cash checks
- Withdraw cash from bank accounts
- Obtain Social Security benefits
- Obtain tax refunds
- Commit immigration crimes
- Use other people’s health insurance
- Obtain auto loans
- Obtain mortgages
- Rent an apartment or house
Identity theft is a serious crime that is criminalized under both state and federal law. When a person commits identity theft, it is up to the state and federal prosecutors to decide whether to prosecute the case in state or federal court.
Under Pennsylvania’s identity theft law, the penalty for identity theft depends on the nature of the crime and the value of goods or services obtained by the identity thief.
For example, if the total value of the property obtained was less than $2,000, it’s a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 and up to five years in prison (for a first offense).
If the offense involved more than $2,000 worth of goods or services, it’s a felony of the third degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $15,000 and up to seven years in prison.
For identity theft violations in Pennsylvania, the Attorney General is empowered to commence criminal proceedings against the offender.
If you are being charged with identity theft in Harrisburg, contact our firm for an aggressive defense. We represent clients in the state and federal courts.