Understanding identity theft and how can a conviction affect you

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Friday, August 1, 2014.

The numbers are simply staggering when it comes to identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, every 79 seconds a thief manages to steal an individual's personally identifying information and secure some form of credit before embarking on a shopping spree. The FTC estimates that over the last five years, at least 27 million Americans have fallen victim to identity theft related crimes.

A website maintained by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts defines identity theft as a criminal offense that happens anytime a person wrongfully obtains personal data from another person and uses it for their own economic gain. This type of offense is characterized by the offender's use of fraud or deception to get access to the victim's personal information.

Criminals use a variety of methods to obtain the information they need to falsify fraudulent accounts. Tactics such as shoulder surfing, sifting through people's trash and using Internet schemes to uncover secret passwords are just a few of some of the more common practices.

Despite the prevalence of identity thieves, consumers and law enforcement sometimes make mistakes when it comes to identifying the person actually committing the offense of identity theft. There may be mitigating factors which may affect the culpability of someone accused of identity theft. For example, a girlfriend who receives a laptop computer as a gift from her boyfriend may not necessarily have been involved in any crime, even though the computer may contain evidence of identity theft.

Massachusetts defendants currently facing charges of identity theft should know that these are serious charges that carry long-term ramifications. A conviction for identity theft could potentially make it more difficult to find meaningful employment over the course of a lifetime. When put in perspective, putting together a proper criminal defense now may actually prove to be a smart choice for the future.

Source: Mass.gov -Public Safety, "Identity Theft (what is it, and what are it's consequences)" Jul. 29, 2014