We tend to put a lot of personal information out there, especially when it comes to Internet use. Thus, when one’s identity is stolen, this can be a very problematic situation. And for those accused of stealing this data, he or she could face serious penalties for this crime.

Identity theft or identity fraud refers to an act of wrongfully obtaining or using the personal data of another person through fraud or deception for economic gain. In most states, it is considered a crime to misuse the identifying information of another. This includes information such as Social Security numbers, PIN numbers and credit history. These are typically acquired through the unlawful access to information from the government or financial entities or by a lost or stolen wallet, purse, mail, identification and credit or debit card.

Because identity theft can have harmful consequences, those accused of these crimes are likely to face harsh penalties. Back in 1998, it was made a federal crime. This crime is defined as knowingly transferring or using the identification of another person, without lawful authority, with the intent to commit, aid or abet any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law or a felony under state or local law.

This law was also followed by an enforcement act that was passed in 2004. This act increased the penalties for aggravated identity theft. This required courts to impose an additional sentence. For a general offense, this is two years, but for a terrorism related offense, this is five years.

Identity theft charges could mean incarceration, heft fines and a damaged reputation. It is important to deal with these criminal allegations aggressively and promptly. By asserting a criminal offense, defendants could challenge the evidence against them, even poking holes in the case. This could ultimately result in reduced or dismissed charges.