How to Fight Identity Theft Accusations
Identity theft, also called identity fraud, is one of the most common forms of property crime in America and is classified as a felony in North Carolina.
According to a study by 24/7 Wall St. using identity theft data published by the Federal Trade Commission in the Consumer Sentinel Network, North Carolina has the15th highest identity theft rate in the nation.
If you’ve been accused of identity theft in North Carolina, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you prepare your case.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when a person obtains another’s personal information without their consent and uses it to commit theft or fraud.
Personal information includes:
- Social security number
- Driver’s license or state identification number
- Checking or savings account number
- Credit or debit card number
- Password, personal identification number, or electronic signature
- Fingerprints or other biometric data
- Mother’s maiden name
- Any other identifying information that can be used to access a person’s financial accounts
A person may “steal” another’s identity through credit card skimming, phishing attacks, dumpster diving, mail fraud and lost or stolen wallets. With this unlawfully obtained information, he or she can access a victim’s bank account or open new accounts in the victim’s name.
What Is Trafficking in Stolen Identities?
In North Carolina, it is also unlawful to sell, buy, or transfer identifying information for the purpose of committing identity theft or assisting someone in committing identity theft. For example, if a person buys a stolen driver’s license, he or she may be convicted for this crime.
How Are These Crimes Punished?
Under North Carolina’s identity theft laws, identity theft and trafficking in stolen identities are charged as felonies. The sentence varies based on the severity of the crime and the defendant’s criminal record.
Class G Felony
Identity theft is an automatic Class G felony, punishable by 8 to 31 months in prison.
Class F Felony
If the victim suffers arrest, detention, or conviction as a result of the offense or the defendant possesses the identifying information of three or more people, the sentence is raised to a Class F felony, which carries a punishment of 10 to 14 months in prison.
Class E Felony
Trafficking in stolen identities is a Class E felony. The defendant faces 10 to 41 months in prison.
Fines and Restitution
A conviction for either property crime may result in a fine up to $50,000. In addition, North Carolina allows the victim to seek damages in civil court, in which case the defendant may be ordered to pay them restitution.
What Are the Next Steps?
Accusations of identity theft or trafficking in personal information are serious. A Federal Crime Lawyer can protect you. Contact Manning Law Firm immediately to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer today.