Identity theft is an incredibly common occurrence and it affects many Americans. As a result, it is taken very seriously and comes with strict penalties. Read on for more information regarding identity theft in New Jersey, how it happens, what it entails, and what the punishments include.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, or credit card number without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. According to the Federal Trade Commission, approximately 9 million Americans have their identity stolen each year.
What Are the Penalties of Identity Theft in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, identity theft cases fall on a wide spectrum, with varying penalties. For example, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, if you obtain a benefit or deprive another of a benefit in an amount less than $500 and the offense involves the identity of one victim, you will be found guilty of a fourth-degree crime. This crime will be elevated if you have prior convictions. At the other end of the spectrum, if you manufacture or possess 50 or more items containing personal identifying information pertaining to another person, or ten or more items containing personal identifying information pertaining to five or more separate persons, without authorization, you can be charged with a second-degree crime.
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
Some of the most common ways identity theft occurs include:
- Dumpster Diving – Looking through your garbage for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
- Skimming – Skimmers are small electronic devices. When your credit card is swiped through it, the device reads all of the information encoded on your credit card. Common places these devices may be found include ATMs and gas stations.
- Phishing – Phishing scams involve fake emails sent from seemingly legitimate corporations. These emails are sent with the intent of tricking you into revealing your personal information.
- Mail – Your bills are diverted to another address where they are read or your mail is stolen directly from your mailbox.
- Theft – Your personal information is acquired through the theft of a wallet, purse, home burglary, or car burglary.
- Pretexting – This is like a phishing scam, but it occurs over the phone, rather than through email.
The consequences of identity theft can be severe. If you or a loved one is charged with identity theft, you will want to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney right away.
Contact our Firm
The dedicated and compassionate attorneys at Vigilante Law Firm, P.C. would be happy to provide you with assistance in your case and help you protect your future when so much is on the line. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so we can assess the specific circumstances surrounding your lawsuit.