Crimes involving the stealing of another’s identity continue to increase throughout the country as people become more reliant on technology. These kinds of crime involve the using of another person’s identification information against their will. This could include their name, address, social security number or credit cards.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida had the most cases of identity theft in the nation in 2010 with more than 21,580 reported claims. The crime can happen in several different ways, but the intent most always is to use the person’s information for a gain, whether it is financial or personal.
One of the most common ways the crime is committed is through financial identity theft, which is defined under Florida Statutes Annotated § 817.568. This occurs when someone uses another’s unique information to obtain money, goods or services.
For example, using the name, driver’s license and social security number of another to open a new bank account, acquire a loan or attain government benefits could be considered financial theft of identity. This crime also could include credit card fraud.
Criminal identity theft – the posing of another when apprehended for a crime – can occur when someone uses the personal information of someone else, including a driver’s license or another form of identification. In this case, if a person is arrested, he or she will pose as another. The crime is similar to identity cloning, which is the impersonation of another in an attempt to conceal an identity.
In this situation, someone will impersonate the victim and use his or her information so the crime will not appear on their own record. Warrants could be issued for the victim’s arrest and he or she often could be penalized for a crime that person did not commit.
This often can go unnoticed for years. Unlike financial theft, which could be discovered in merely days, criminal identity theft may not be uncovered until the victim is involved in a minor traffic stop or has a background check completed for employment.
Medical identity theft is another form of fraudulent use of personal information that could be difficult to discover and even harder to prove. This occurs when someone uses another person’s identity, including insurance information, for medical purposes, including prescription drugs.
For example, if a person uses another person’s information during a medical examination to acquire medication, it could be a crime. This is one of the more dangerous forms of the crime because it could result in false information being added to medical history.
Children also can become victims. Using a minor’s social security number to get a driver’s license or buy a house could be considered identity theft. A child’s information also could be used in synthetic identity theft, which is a consolidation of multiple people’s information.
Andrew McLaughlin is a dedicated attorney who represents those facing criminal charges and others seeking help through personal injury claims in South Florida. McLaughlin has represented clients accused of DUI, drug crimes, identity theft and various other offenses.