People sometimes become unwitting victims of identity theft. Such situations can put you in an unimaginable financial crisis. In a recent case, the police arrested a Hawaii couple for living under the identity of two dead infants in Texas. An investigation is under process on the same. Not every case of identity theft will involve criminal prosecution. However, everyone must acquire some knowledge of identity theft to control it perpetrated against you or your loved ones.
What is identity theft?
According to the law, identity theft means taking over somebody else’s identity to gain money, services, goods, or anything of value. The authorities prosecute cases at both state and federal government levels.
Two main types of Identity thefts are:
- Possessing someone’s identity information
Here, the accused possesses someone else’s identity information such as name, date of birth, bank account details, driver’s license, and more.
- Unauthorized transfer of identity information
Here, the accused steals someone’s personal information, such as credit or debit card details. You can access the information simply through video cameras, but the court also considers writing numbers down as theft. It falls under the category of unauthorized acquisition or transfer of identity information.
What are the penalties for identity theft?
The police prosecute identity theft cases at the state and federal government levels. Serious cases involve criminal investigation and others. A person charged with identity theft can get accused with many civil and criminal penalties, including imprisonment and paying heavy fines. The punishment of crimes varies significantly in nature. What punishment a criminal has depends on the charges they are accused of. The severity of the punishment increases with the severity of the crime committed by a person. Another determining factor of punishment is past criminal records.
If someone is found guilty for the first time and has no records of crimes, the judge will consider this. But again, all of this comes down to the case. In cases of unauthorized transfer of identity information, a person has to pay for the money or services they have taken in the name of another person. For compensation, the judge may also ask the accused to pay back a massive amount to the victim. It is the substitute for imprisonment.
If the court considers the case aggravated, the consequences will enhance even further. An aggravated case is when someone steals the identity of a protected person, such as a senior citizen or a disabled person. It also applies to cases where the frauds take up the dead people’s identities to gain advantages.
An example is the Hawaii couple who took the identity of dead infants. The police doubted their birth as well as their origin, and thus the authorities ordered a criminal investigation. We cannot specify the exact penalties applied to the accused as it varies according to the case complexity and the crime severity.
Key Takeaway Identity theft is stealing someone’s identity to gain money, services, and other benefits. The law considers this an offensive crime and charges a heavy penalty. The penalties vary from fines to imprisonment.