While identity theft has become one of the most common crimes in recent years, the government has also been enacting stricter laws and redoubling its efforts at enforcing those laws. If you are charged and convicted of this crime, you could be facing hefty fines and many years in prison. The attorneys at the Law Firm of Shein & Brandenburg are highly knowledgeable and experienced in defending those wrongly accused of identity theft, and will work tirelessly to protect your rights and prove your case.
What Is Identity Theft?
“Identity theft” is defined as any wrongful obtainment of someone else’s personal information, and using that information deceptively or fraudulently, usually for financial reasons. The actual term “identity theft” is an obvious misnomer—no one can actually “take” someone else’s identity. However, it is both possible and common to use someone else’s personal information to impersonate someone else “on paper”, or to assume that person’s identity in various ways. This may involve either attempting to conduct transactions under the victim’s name, or using account numbers or social security numbers to forge fake identities. Common examples of identity theft may include:
- Credit card fraud: using unlawfully obtained credit card information to make purchases without authorization
- “Skimming”: illegally obtaining credit card information by accessing business receipts, using card readers or wireless RIFD readers, or even “dumpster diving”
- “Phishing”: Spamming people with fraudulent emails to deceive them into giving up their personal information
- Hacking computers or using malware/spyware to obtain personal data
- Using the account information stolen from a personal check to forge false checks
- Using another person’s social security number to open new credit accounts
- Using another person’s social security number to file fraudulent tax returns
- Using another person’s personal information to obtain health care or prescriptions
Defending Against Charges Of Identity Theft
One key change in the laws within the last 15 years is the closing of the legal loophole that made identity theft a crime only if you used other person’s information unlawfully. Today, it’s a crime simply to obtain the information unlawfully, whether or not any attempt is made to use the data for financial gain. This fact, combined with the heightened emotions and attention focused on this particular crime, means that it is possible to be wrongly accused of identity theft on the suspicion that you obtained someone else’s information illegally, or intended to use it for illegal purposes—regardless of whether any transactions occurred. That said, it is the matter of proving intention that often provides an effective strategy for defending against these charges. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will look carefully at all the circumstances surrounding your case, make sure you are aware of all your options, and employ every available strategy to resolve the case before it ever makes it to trail. We’ll also defend your innocence aggressively in court if it comes to that; and even if you’re convicted, our team is highly experienced in post-trial remedies that often result in mitigated sentences, reduced fines and even overturned convictions.
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