Identity theft is one form of fraud where an individual's personal information is stolen and used for various reasons. It is most often for financial gain, and may be through using current bank accounts or opening up new ones. Government benefits made up around 46 percent of fraud cases in 2012, while credit card fraud came in at 13 percent. Identity theft involves the use of deception or fraud, using information that an individual does not have a right to or using given information but for a reason other than what was intended. Information taken can include a Social Security number, credit card, bank account, address, telephone number and other information that can be misused. Estimates have stated that almost 12 million individuals in the country have dealt with some type of identity theft.
This crime is widespread and it has caused the federal government to take action. They are far more aware of these acts and they take them seriously; devoting extensive resources to track down and prosecute those who are guilty of identity theft or fraud. It was originally the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 that made identity theft a federal offense and since this act the government has continued to make adjustments to fit the current need of the situation. This means that the penalties can be harsh and efforts have been sought continuously to make them harsher.
Law enforcement takes such a strong stance for the purpose of discourage against this criminal act. Tracking down a suspect of identity theft can be challenging but the more time that has been spent aimed at this goal, the more that law enforcement has learned how to do this effectively. The state of South Carolina has also taken their own initiative, passing laws over the years that protect individuals against identity theft and punish those who are deemed guilty by the court. S.C. Code Ann. § 16-13-500 to §16-13-530 covers identity fraud making it a crime at the state level.
Penalties can vary greatly depending on where the case is handled and how serious the incident is. A charge is not a conviction so it is important to fight it from turning into one. At Masella Law our firm offers aggressive defense for those who are accused. We know that the justice system is not always right and charged individuals are not always given a fair chance of defense. We use our knowledge and our experience to the benefit of those that we represent to seek a solution that works now and in the future. Let us protect your name by contacting our Columbia criminal defense lawyer immediately.