Identity theft refers to a variety of actions in which an individual uses personal information belonging to another person in an unauthorized manner. This crime can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.
Identity Theft (CA PC §530.5)
Under California law, a person is prohibited from obtaining personally identifiable information from another person with intentions of using this information unlawfully. And these days, anyone at any age, ranging from children to the elderly can be a target of identity theft. Under state law, this crime is labeled as the “unauthorized use of another person's personal identifying information.”
Personally Identifiable Information
The California Penal Code lists the types of identifiers that could be unlawfully utilized in a theft crime. If a person has been found in court to have used any of this information unlawfully, a conviction may occur. These types of information are (but not limited to):
- A person's name
- Taxpayer identification number
- Social security number
- Driver's license number
- Residential address
- Phone number
- Bank account numbers
- Banking pin numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Passport number, etc.
California uniquely includes biological data such as fingerprints, voiceprints, retina and iris images as personally identifiable information.
Also, In order to be prosecuted for stealing another person's identity, there must be evidence a number of activities that one partook in that determine a person's intention to use the information for illegal purposes. Some examples of these suspicious activities are:
- Requesting medical information
- Obtaining merchandise or property
- Applying for credit
- False applications for loans and credit cards
An example of committing identity theft would be fabricating a fake sweepstake asking for the social security number and banking information of those who would like to join, and using the information to pay off your student loans.
If a person has obtained someone else's personally identifiable information but has exhibited no proof of using it in connection with an unlawful purpose or for criminal intent, under California law he or she not guilty of identity theft.
Identity Theft Penalties in California
Identity theft could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, it depends on the nature of the crime and the harm experienced by the alleged victim.
If a person is convicted of a felony, one could spend up to three years in a county jail and/or pay a fine that will not exceed $10,000.
If the instance of identity theft is charged as a misdemeanor, a person will face up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
Experienced California Identity Theft Lawyers
If you have been charged with identity theft, it does not mean you will be convicted. Knowledgeable attorney Harris B. Taback is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the accused. Call his office at (415) 241-1400 or contact him online for a free consultation.