Information is everywhere - easily accessible and in many cases, very detailed and personal. People rely on the internet to house all of their most important and private information at a moment’s notice. For some people however, it can be tempting to utilize that information in an inappropriate way. When does using another person’s information turn into a crime?
In Illinois, identity theft occurs when an unauthorized person uses another’s information, including an individual’s name, birth certificate, IDs, or social security number to commit fraud. That can happen in dozens of ways, from stealing a credit card, opening bank accounts, applying for loans, renting apartments, withdrawing money, or buying tangible goods. Such a fraud may also violate other statues, such as identification, credit card, computer, mail, wire, or financial institution fraud. If you have been accused of Identity theft in Illinois, contact Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC to discuss your options.
What is Aggravated Identity Theft?
Illinois law states that a person commits aggravated identity theft when an identity theft is committed against a person over the age of 60, regardless of whether the accused believed the person was under the age of 60. This is because older people are often more susceptible to fraud or theft and may have less awareness of the situation. The same crime enhancement applies to a person with a disability. Lastly, a person may also be charged with aggravated identity theft if the crime furthers organized gang activity. Penalties for Aggravated Identity Theft tend to be much higher than the standard crime.
How does Identity Theft Happen?
There are countless scenarios for which someone may be charged and convicted of identity theft. It may happen as a result of something as simple as guessing a password to a bank account or as complicated as capitalizing on a data breach at a major company. Here are a few other behaviors that could result in an identity theft charge:
- Rummaging through garbage cans at banks, credit agencies, neighborhoods, and even scouring obituaries to find an individual’s bank or credit information.
- When working in a career that has easy access to credit reports, such as a telemarketer or collections agent, it is considered identity theft to use the database to search for individual information.
- Posing as police, charity workers, or the IRS, and coercing people to give you information over the phone.
- Seeing or overhearing someone giving out their bank information and keeping it for yourself or selling that bank information to a third party.
- Picking up a dropped credit card and using it to buy items for yourself.
- Using someone’s social security number to open up new accounts, whether they’re bank, utility or cell phone accounts.
What is Fraudulent Intent?
If you obtain a stolen piece of bank account information, a credit card, or personal identifier, you can still be charged, even if you never utilize that information for personal gain. It is still classified as an identity theft if you intend to use that information to benefit you or knew that it was produced without lawful authority or stolen.
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney
When a defendant is charged with an identity theft, court proceeding can be very complex. Often, the police records involve complicated bank transactions and documents. Depending upon the nature of the identity theft, the crime may be as serious as a Class X felony, requiring a mandatory prison sentence. But in any event, the court process may be lengthy and even if prison time is avoided, you may be ordered to pay restitution to the victims for the amount of money which was involved, or possibly more. In cases such as these, an experienced lawyer will carefully investigate the discovery documents, while they work to build a strong defense to help protect your reputation and liberty. Once you contact a knowledgeable attorney, they will often explore possible defenses by asking you a series of questions, such as:
- Was there an instance where you were authorized to use the identity information in question? If it can be shown that you were given the clearance to use a person’s identity, you should not be held liable for the alleged theft of the information.
- What was your intention when you obtained the information? Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to act criminally.
- Did you specifically seek to steal an individual’s identity? Sometimes, genuine mistakes happen that put others in possession of identity information.
Contact an experienced Chicago Identity Theft Lawyer
If you or a loved one is a defendant charged with identity theft in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, call the experienced attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. We fight aggressively to make sure our clients are protected to the fullest extent of the law. Our phone lines are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We also offer a no-commitment consultation that can be arranged at one of our convenient office locations including Arlington Heights and Chicago. Call us at (800) 996-4824 or fill out an online form to schedule your free consultation today.