One of the most frightening and potentially devastating non-violent crimes that can happen to anyone is identity theft. Not all incidents result in significant losses but unfortunately, losses are increasing along with incidents. If you are in California, it’s in your best interest to learn more about this white-collar crime.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft involves stealing someone’s personally identifiable information and impersonating them in some form for the purposes of personal gain. The three types of identity theft are financial, medical, and online. One common example of identity theft can occur from a job scam.
This type of white-collar crime is far more prevalent than in decades past. Before computers, identity theft was a matter of stealing someone’s identification in hard copy form. The internet changed everything, becoming a storehouse of personal information. It then became much easier for criminals to access that information by using phishing tactics.
Identity theft statistics
Hundreds of identity theft incidents are reported each month. The number has increased since 2019 from 650-700 reports to 750-800 in 2021. In February 2022, there was a sudden leap to over 1,300 cases. The number of identity theft reports has only increased from then on.
According to the ITRC, most victims of identity theft lose less than $500, and $800 is the median amount of money lost. Identity theft requires a certain degree of trust to be successful. When incidents increase, financial losses increase.
Defenses against identity theft charges
There are two possible defenses against a charge of identity theft, which can result in a misdemeanor or a felony conviction with fines and imprisonment. One defense is that the accused was not the person who committed the crime, and the other is that the accused did not intend to use the information for personal gain.
Identity theft in California can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the loss and the defendant’s history. The defendant in an identity theft case should seek legal representation from an experienced attorney.