What Should I Do if I am Accused of Identity Theft?
If you are accused of identity theft, contact a criminal defense lawyer who may help you negotiate a plea deal or advance the defense that the alleged victim gave you their consent to use their identifying information.
Georgia Code 121 defines the crime of identity theft as the use or possession of another person’s identifying information, with the intent to fraudulently use that without that person’s consent. Identifying information, in this context, refers to social security numbers, addresses, birthdates, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and other pieces of information used to verify a person’s identity when making a financial transaction in their name. In some cases, the victim knew that the defendant knew their identifying information, such as if a business keeps a customer’s credit card information on file, and an employee used the credit card to make charges the customer did not authorize. In other cases, the defendant stole the victim’s identifying information during a data breach of a company’s computer network and then opened credit card accounts in the victim’s name. The penalty for identity theft in Georgia is 1 to 10 years in prison, sometimes in addition to a monetary fine. If you are facing criminal charges for identity theft, contact a Gwinnett County financial crimes defense lawyer.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Identity theft happens when someone gains access to another person’s identifying information without their consent. Phishing scams and data breaches of point-of-sale devices and corporations’ computer networks are common sources of identity theft. Another example would be an employee of a company steals the information by photographing a document that contains the victim’s identifying information and sells it.
Not every surprise charge on your credit card is identity theft, though. If a customer gives a company their credit card information, the company may make charges to that card, that the customer is not happy about, such as holds until a rented item is returned, late fees, and early termination fees, but if the terms of service mentioned the possibility of those charges, and if the customer agreed to the terms of service, it is not identity theft.
Defenses to Identity Theft Charges
If you get charged with identity theft or any other crime, you have the right to have an attorney represent you, to plead not guilty to the charges, and to try to persuade the jury that the evidence against you is not strong enough to convict you. One of the most common defenses to charges of identity theft is that the victim consented to the transactions you made in their name. You might also argue that someone used your devices without your consent to make the fraudulent transactions. If the evidence against you is very convincing, your lawyer may be able to help you negotiate a plea deal for a lesser sentence, or a less serious crime.
Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Identity Theft Defense
An Atlanta financial crimes defense lawyer can help you avoid a long prison sentence if you are facing criminal charges for identity theft or another financial crime. Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Norcross, Georgia to set up a free consultation.