Did you know that someone becomes a victim of identity theft in the US every 14 seconds? The most common type of identity theft is credit card fraud, followed by bank fraud and utility fraud.
If you have been charged with identity theft, then you need to understand what that means in Louisiana. The first step is to know more about the application of the statute, followed by contacting an identity theft attorney who can help you come up with a strategy.
Keep on reading for everything you need to know about an identity theft case in Louisiana and get a better sense of what you need to prove in an identity theft case.
What Is Identity theft?
Are you facing charges for fraud? The first thing you need to understand is what type of fraud have you been charged with. In some cases, you can be charged with more than one type of fraud, including access fraud, bank fraud, and identity theft.
The type of charge will determine what you need to prove to defend against the charges. Identity theft includes all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains or uses another person’s personal data in a fraudulent way, usually for economic gain. Identity theft in Louisiana is defined in RS 14:67.16.
The most common type of identity theft is where you wrongfully get someone else’s credit card information and run up charges. Other types of identity theft involve wrongfully using someone else’s social security number to get government credits and refunds.
Examples of Identity Theft
Identity theft can take place in many ways including simply watching someone punch in a credit card number over their shoulder or hearing them on the phone. Once they get the personal protected information, they can use it for many different activities:
- Applying for government credits or social security cheques
- False application of credit cards or loans
- Fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts
- Purchasing goods and services on the credit card
Another common way of identity theft is finding someone’s application for “pre-approved” credit cards in the mail and activating the credit card without the owner’s knowledge. The police also consider sending out unsolicited spam emails requesting personal information to be identity theft.
Of course, identity theft is not just limited to individuals. Getting access to personal information from corporations and using that information for economic gain would also constitute identity theft.
What Type of Information Can Be Stolen in an Identity Theft Case?
You should understand that identity theft applies to the criminal use of personal information including:
- Social security number
- Driver’s license number
- Checking or savings account number
- Credit card or debit card number
- Digital signatures
- Date of birth
- Mother’s maiden name
- Government-issued identification number
The identity theft statutes set out this information but remember that it’s not limited to this. You may be charged with identity theft for the unlawful use of personal information that is not included on this list.
What Do You Need to Prove?
According to the identity theft statutes, there are several requirements that your conduct would have to meet to fall under the definition of identity theft. You would need to prove that you don’t meet the conditions in the identity theft statutes.
You need to show that you are falsely accused, which means providing evidence that shows that you could not have done what you are accused of. You can show evidence that it was an honest error. For example, you opened someone else’s mail by mistake or you had the authorization to open the mail.
Lack of Fraudulent Intent
You need to show a lack of fraudulent intent. Identity fraud requires intentional use, possession, transfer, or attempted use with fraudulent intent by any person of personal information by another person.
You can show a lack of fraudulent intent by showing that it was an honest mistake or you didn’t intend to use the information for a fraudulent purpose.
No Personal Information
You can show that the information you stole was not personal information. In this case, you would need evidence that the information was available publicly.
No Economic Gain
Identity fraud statutes require that you use the stolen information to obtain, possess, or transfer, whether contemporaneously or not, credit, money, goods, services, or anything else of value. You would need to show that you stole another person’s personal information but you didn’t do it for economic gain.
Authorization or Consent
For identity fraud, you need to have obtained the information without the authorization or consent of the other person. Another way to address identity theft is to prove that you had authorization or consent of the other person to use the personal information.
What Is the Punishment for Identity Theft?
The punishment for identity theft depends on who you commit the fraud against and how much you stole. If you stole more than $1,000, you can face penalties of:
- fines up to $10,000
- prison term of up to 10 years
If you defrauded someone over 60 years of age, under the age of 17, or a disabled person for $1,000 or more, you can get imprisoned for 3 to 10 years, and fined up to $10,000.
In addition to paying these fines, you will have to return the funds back to the person whom you stole from. You can make this payment through a payment plan based on your financial situation.
Contact an Identity Theft Attorney Today
Now you know when you can what you need to consider when you are charged with identity theft. You need to consider what strategies you can use to prove that you did not do what you are accused of. An identity theft attorney can be extremely helpful in this case.
An experienced identity theft attorney will sit and interview you to understand the situation. They can then find loopholes and the best approach to addressing your identity theft charges. If you’re looking for an identity theft attorney in Baton Rouge, Livingston, or Ascension, contact us to schedule a consultation today.