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How does identity theft happen?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Identity theft is widespread across the United States. Around nine million Americans fall prey to this crime annually. Despite being relatively common, many people may still be unaware of how it happens.

Identity theft typically happens when someone else accesses personal information and commits crimes using it, such as fraud or stealing. Details usually used for identity theft include full names, identification numbers and credit card information.

The state of New Jersey takes this crime seriously. The law has provisions against identity theft and impersonation or using false identities.

Typically, identity thieves can collect your information through the following methods:

  • Dumpster diving: They look through your garbage for bills or other documents with your details.
  • Skimming: They use devices to skim your cards to read encoded data.
  • Phishing: They use emails to trick you into giving confidential details, such as bank account info and passwords.
  • Changing your address: They divert your mail to a different address to steal vital details.
  • Theft of belongings with identification: Certain thieves target your wallet not only for cash but also for your credit and identification cards
  • Pretexting: They pose as financial institutions via text messages for you to provide your personal information.

These incidents could compromise anyone’s information, making them prone to identity theft.

What are the penalties for identity theft?

Like other theft offenses, the penalties might vary depending on the total value stolen. Penalties could include fines and jail time based on a case-to-case basis.

Still, this crime can become a second-degree charge if the stolen value reaches $75,000 or involves three to five victims. Additionally, other factors, such as additional charges and particular circumstances, could affect the crime’s severity and its accompanying sanctions.