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According to a 2009 report by the Federal Trade Commission, approximately 13.9 million Americans have become victims of identity theft. Data from the Consumer Sentinel Network in 2014 showed that the state of Florida had the most cases of identity theft with 37,059 incidents – or around 186 complaints per 100,000 residents.
If you have been accused of identity theft in Florida, it is important that you seek legal representation from a seasoned identity theft lawyer as soon as possible. Find an identity theft attorney that has extensive experience in white collar crimes and federal criminal defense within the state.
What Constitutes Identity Theft?
In 1998, the U.S. Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act which categorized identity theft as a federal crime. Title 18 Section 1028 of the U.S. Code defines Identity Theft, otherwise known as Aggravated Identity Theft, as the unauthorized use of another person’s identification with the intent to commit unlawful activity. Aggravated Identity Theft carries a consecutive two-year minimum mandatory prison sentence for each count charged. Identity theft is also considered a felony in certain states.
There is identity theft in the following circumstances:
- A caller pretends to be a bank representative and asks for personal details such as social security number and date of birth. Once the caller obtains access to a bank account, this can be used to empty the account or obtain more credit cards.
- A bank employee gets access to a client’s account and sells it to a buyer.
- A stranger picks up a lost credit card and uses it to buy something.
- Another computer user gains access to your email account and picks up personal information in your conversations.
- The garbage collector finds some personal documents in the trash and uses the information to apply for a credit card.
- A DMV employee sells license registry information to someone on the outside.
- A store clerk photocopies a check with the customer’s license number and uses the information.
- A dumpster diver finds and uses credit card receipts at restaurants.
- Open a bank account in someone else’s name and write bad checks on that account.
- Apply for mobile phone service in someone else’s name.
There are other cases in which identity theft laws would apply. These are just a few.
Penalties for Committing Identity Theft in Florida
Under Florida Statute 817.568, a person may be charged with a felony of the first, second or third degree for the following identity theft crimes:
- Criminal use of personal identification.
Using another individual’s personal information without their consent is classified as a second degree felony if the amount stolen is equal or greater than $5,000.
- Criminal use of personal information to harass.
If the stolen personal information is used to harass another individual, the crime will be prosecuted as a first degree misdemeanor.
- Criminal use of a minor’s personal information.
Using the identity of a minor for personal gain – even by a parent, guardian, or relative – constitutes a second-degree felony.
- Criminal use of a deceased person’s information.
Using the identity of a dead person is considered a third-degree felony. Charges, however, are upgraded according to the value stolen:
- Second-degree felony if equal or greater than $5,000
- First-degree felony if equal or greater than $50,000
- First-degree felony with mandatory 10-year sentence if equal or greater than $100,000 and if the crime involved 30 or more deceased persons
Contact an Identity Theft Lawyer in Florida Today
An identity theft attorney deals with many different types of cases ranging from credit card fraud to government document scams to fraudulent tax filings. If you are facing identity theft charges in Florida, consult an identity theft lawyer with vast expertise defending these types of charges in Federal and State court. Call us to schedule an appointment or drop by our office today.