People who commit identity theft try to access someone else’s information for fraudulent purposes, which is a serious crime. In 2017 alone, almost $15 billion have been stolen from people because of identity theft. It can happen in a variety of ways. Hackers can access your information by starting a data security breach, or you may have accidentally given it away during a conversation on social media.
The government doesn’t go easy on identity theft charges. Because more business is being done through online channels, law enforcement agencies are very sensitive about protecting the personal information of consumers. On the federal level, identity theft can come with severe penalties (which can be as high as 30 years in a federal prison and thousands in fines).
If you or someone you know has been accused of identity theft in Texas, you need to speak with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. That way, you can come up with a solid defense.
What are the different types of identity theft?
Many people think that identity theft charges are related to the stealing of credit card numbers or taking money from bank accounts, but there are other ways that you can be guilty of identity theft. Some of them can include but may not be limited to:
- Criminal Identity Theft — When you commit another crime and give law enforcement the wrong identifying information.
- Medical Identity Theft — When you steal someone’s health insurance card for the purpose of getting medical care or prescription drugs.
- Tax Identity Theft — When you file a tax return in someone else’s name and take that person’s refund.
- Child Identity Theft — When you open an account with a child’s Social Security Number.
If you’re facing identity theft charges, be sure to speak to a qualified attorney.
What are some examples of identity theft?
Identity theft will often involve stealing any of the following:
- Information on a birth or death certificate.
- Bank account information.
- Credit card information.
- School I.D. or employee I.D. information.
- Driver’s license or passport information.
- Someone else’s name, date of birth, address, or telephone number.
This information can be taken in any of the following ways:
- Hacking computers or using malware to collect data stored on computers.
- Accessing business receipts, credit card readers, or RFID readers to collect credit card information (also called “skimming”).
- Stealing wallets or purses.
- Digging through dumpsters for discarded records, mail, or receipts.
- Sending out fraudulent or “spam” emails to people, so you can get them to provide their personal information (also called “phishing”).
- Running telephone scams.
- Stealing mail.
- Public eavesdropping.
Be sure to speak to a qualified attorney for more information.
How is identity theft defined in the State of Texas?
According to Texas Penal Code 32.51, “a person commits identity theft if he or she obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses identifying information of another person without the other person’s consent and with the intent to harm or defraud another.” Identity theft in Texas isn’t limited to people who are still alive. You can also face identity theft charges if you took the identity of a deceased person. The important element of identity theft is the involvement of identifying information, which can go beyond someone’s Social Security Number. This can include any of the following:
- Birth date
- Retina scans
- Voice codes
Being convicted of identity theft in Texas is considered a felony that will lead to a permanent stain on your personal record, but the specific degree will depend on how many pieces of identifying information have been stolen.
What are some possible defenses against identity theft in the State of Texas?
Because identity theft charges can come with such harsh penalties, it’s important to hire an attorney with experience in dealing with these types of cases. This person will be able to understand every possible defense for the crime of which you have been accused. Here are some of the common defenses you can use for your case:
- Falsely Accused — If you get some mail that was meant for your neighbor, you open it without realizing it was for another address, and your neighbor accuses you of trying to steal his or her information, it would be considered a false accusation.
- Authorization — This can be a powerful legal defense against identity theft in Texas. If someone gave you permission to use his or her identity, you can’t be charged with identity theft.
- Lack of Fraudulent Intent — Prosecutors won’t have a case against you if they can’t prove you took someone’s identity to perform actions that would be considered unlawful.
- No Intent — For prosecutors to prove you committed identity theft in Texas, they have to show that you took someone else’s identifying information for the purpose of committing an act that’s considered unlawful.
- Improper Search — Proving identity theft charges will typically involve the search and seizure of some kind of computer device. But according to the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, law enforcement agencies need to get a properly approved warrant from a judge to search for anything you own or use.
If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Corpus Christi to help you with identity theft charges, be sure to get in touch with Gale Law Group.