Identity Theft and the Digital Age: Challenges and Solutions

If you’ve been charged with criminal identity theft, turn to Keith Oliver Criminal Law for aggressive, experienced legal representation. We are prepared to fight to protect your rights and your future.

Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney.

The Rise of Identity Theft in the Digital Era

How can criminal identity theft occur in this day and age? Identity theft has become easier and more prevalent in the modern digital era. Many people conduct their financial and legal transactions online, sending personal information online like Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, dates of birth, and addresses. 

The constant exchange of personal and financial information has enabled identity thieves to steal people’s information quickly and either sell the information to others or use the information themselves to engage in various fraudulent schemes.

Identity thieves may compromise digital security measures designed to keep financial and personal information safe on the web or use phishing schemes to trick people into handing over their personal data.

Types of Digital Identity Theft

What is criminal identity theft? Some of the most common types of digital identity theft include:

  • Obtaining credit cards, bank accounts, or other financial products using someone else’s personal information or using fake information to open new accounts
  • Making significant purchases, such as a new car or real estate, using stolen identity or fake personal information
  • Diverting and seizing government benefits intended for someone else or using someone else’s identity to apply for government benefits
  • Obtaining goods or services using someone else’s identity with the intent to avoid paying for those goods or services
  • Eluding criminal prosecution for unlawful activities by posing as someone else online
  • Gaining access to a person’s bank account to make purchases or transfer money and assets out of the account

Legal Implications of Identity Theft 

A person who commits identity theft may face prosecution at the state and federal levels. In New Jersey, the identity theft statute makes it illegal for a person by any means, including but not limited to the use of the internet or electronic communications, to:

  • Impersonate another person or assume a false identity to obtain a benefit for oneself or injure or defraud another party
  • Pretend to represent another person or organization to obtain a benefit for oneself or injure or defraud another
  • Impersonate another person, assume a false identity, or make false or misleading statements regarding another’s identity in an oral or written application for services with the intent to obtain such services
  • Obtain another person’s personal identifying information and use that information or assist someone else in using that information to assume the identity of another person without their authorization and with the intent to fraudulently obtain benefits or services for oneself, avoid debts or other legal obligations, or avoid prosecution for a crime
  • Impersonate another person, assume a false identity, or make false or misleading statements regarding another’s identity in an oral or written application for services with the intent to avoid paying for prior services

When facing an identity theft charge, you may ask, “Is identity theft a felony?” New Jersey law uses the term indictable offense rather than felony. Penalties for violating New Jersey’s identity theft statute depend on the amount of money or the value of goods and services involved in the offense: 

  • An offense involving less than $500 and the identity of one victim – Fourth-degree indictable offense that carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison, although a second or subsequent identity theft conviction constitutes a third-degree crime with a penalty of up to five years in prison
  • An offense involving at least $500 but less than $75,000 or the identity of at least two but less than five victims – Third-degree indictable offense
  • An offense involving $75,000 or more or the identity of five or more victims – Second-degree indictable offense, with a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison

The federal identity theft statute makes it a crime to intentionally or knowingly:

  • Produce an identification document, authentication features, or a false identification document
  • Transfer an identification document, authentication features, or a false identification document knowing the document’s stolen or falsely produced nature
  • Possess five or more identification documents, authentication features, or false identification documents (other than those lawfully issued to the possessor) with the intent to use those materials
  • Possess an identification document, authentication features, or a false identification document (other than one lawfully issued) to defraud the United States
  • Produce, transfer, or possess a document-making implement or authentication feature with the intent to use them to make false identification documents
  • Possess an identification document or authentication feature issued by the federal government knowing the stolen or fraudulently created nature of the document
  • Transfer, possess, or unlawfully use a means of identifying another person intending to commit, aid, or abet any unlawful activity under federal, state, or local law
  • Traffic in false or genuine authentication features for use in false identification documents or other means of identification

The maximum sentence for violating the federal identity theft statute can range between 15 and 30 years in prison, depending on the nature of the offense. Aggravated identity theft involves an identity theft offense committed to facilitate other felony offenses, such as stealing government benefits, committing immigration violations, or engaging in terrorism. You might wonder, “Is aggravated identity theft a felony?” Federal law enhances the penalties for aggravated identity theft. 

The Road to Resolution: Legal Steps and Support

Resolving your identity theft charges begins with thoroughly investigating the government’s case against you to determine whether you have any defense strategies available to you. Examples of possible defenses include: 

  • You obtained permission to use the person’s credit card details, personally identifiable information, or other sensitive data
  • You lacked intent to use the information to commit identity theft or for other illegal purposes
  • Mistaken identity
  • Law enforcement agencies or the prosecution violated your rights during the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of the online identity theft charges against you.

Our criminal defense lawyer can build a solid defense and work toward getting your identity theft charges reduced or dropped altogether.

Keith Oliver’s Approach to Defense in Identity Theft Cases

At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our firm focuses exclusively on criminal defense, giving us extensive experience and insight into the New Jersey and federal criminal justice systems. We treat every client with the respect they deserve, putting in the time and effort necessary to develop a tailored case strategy to aggressively pursue favorable results in cases involving charges of financial identity theft and similar offenses. You can call your attorney 24/7 to get answers to your questions and updates on the progress of your case.

Charged with Identity Theft? Contact Our New Jersey Defense Attorney Today

When accused of digital identity fraud or facing identity theft charges in New Jersey, you need experienced, knowledgeable legal counsel to help you protect your rights and future to avoid severe consequences. 

Contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law today for a free consultation with a New Jersey defense attorney about strategies for handling your legal charges. The consultation is completely confidential and comes without further obligations on your part.