When you think of theft, you might imagine someone stealing physical property–a car, money, or merchandise. There’s another type of theft that’s sometimes forgotten until it happens to you.
Identity theft affects someone in the U.S. every 22 seconds. An estimated 33% of Americans have dealt with identity theft on some level and lost up to $5.8 billion and counting. Interestingly, only 1 in 700 people who commit identity theft are ever brought to justice.
What exactly is identity theft? It’s when someone takes identifying information from another person and uses it for financial gain.
Of course, identity theft in Utah is illegal, and there are systems in place to prevent it from happening to you.
Under the Identity Fraud Act, Utah charges one of two types of felonies to people who use another person’s information for some kind of gain.
If someone has multiple violations within one of these charges, the label “aggravated” accompanies it. This means harsher penalties for the perpetrator.
In addition to all this, a convicted fraudster has to pay restitution to the victim. This can include lost wages, attorney fees, and the time it took the victim to deal with the aftermath of the fraud — such as having to go through the necessary proceedings to resolve any kind of debt created from it.
Businesses in Utah are required by law to protect the personal information of all their customers and employees. This means they have to implement safety procedures to keep sensitive information secure.
When businesses don’t need that information anymore, they are required to erase it from the system and shred all paper files.
Phishing is when someone uses a computer to obtain personal information. It is often done through a fake website or email. Some perpetrators will pretend to be a big company like Netflix and send an email saying the customers need to update billing information. Victim’s will follow the link, fill out a form under the pretense that it is for billing purposes, and their identity gets stolen.
Stealing information electronically results in a second-degree felony.
Using a fraudulent driver’s license can result in a third-degree felony charge and up to five years in prison.
It’s not just the person using the license who could get in trouble. If an employee of the Driver License Bureau provides an ID to someone who does rightfully obtain it, the employee has committed a Class A misdemeanor.
If you lend your ID to a friend so they can use it to get goods or services, you can wind up with a Class C misdemeanor offense, which means up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $750.
Utah is among the states with an “ID Theft Passport Law.” If you file a police report that your identity was stolen, police can get you an indication on your driver’s license that you are a victim of identity theft.
Agencies across the state will have access to your personal information — including the police report and the fact that you have the identity theft passport — so there is no confusion if someone commits a crime under your name.
If you are accused of identity theft, you will want to have an experienced defense attorney at your side to help you navigate the law. The attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat have been practicing for over 20 years. They can help you at any stage of the criminal defense process.
Call (801) 532-5297 for a free consultation.
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