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Identity theft and identity fraud: Here are the basics

On Behalf of | May 5, 2020 | White Collar Crimes |

Identity theft and identity fraud affect millions of Georgians every year. A poll conducted in 2018 revealed that nearly 60 million people nationwide had been affected by identity theft.

In this post we will look at the basics of identity theft and identity fraud, and how they are different from one another.

Federal identity theft laws

The two most relevant updates to federal laws regarding identity theft include the 1998 Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. It amended a prior law and made it a federal crime to use another person’s identity to commit a federal crime or commit a felony at the state level. The other is the 2004 Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which assigns more jail time for certain felony crimes committed with a stolen identity.

Georgia’s identity theft laws

States have different laws regarding identity theft. Georgia takes a firm stance against white collar crime and identity theft, which can be a matter for both criminal court and civil court. Identity theft is a felony in the state of Georgia. Jail time for identity theft could be as little as one year or as much as 10 years. There also could be fines of up to $100,000.

Identity theft vs. identity fraud

Identity theft is bad, but identity fraud is worse. What’s the difference? An example of identity theft is stealing someone’s credit card. Identity fraud would be using the stolen card to buy products or services. Other examples of identity fraud are:

  • Using someone’s identity to open accounts for a cell phone, utilities or streaming TV
  • Using someone’s Social Security number to obtain government benefits
  • Using someone’s personal information to obtain a car loan

As you might expect, the criminal penalties for identity fraud can be severe. Penalties can include imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of property used in committing the crimes.

Do you have questions?

Identity theft and identity fraud may not be violent crimes, but they are serious. If you have been charged with identity theft or identity fraud, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand how the law applies to your specific case and can explain your legal options.