According to the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, "Identity theft is the nation's fastest growing crime." Effective December 31, 2008, South Carolina identity theft victims were able to place security freezes on their credit reports, which block identity thieves from accessing victims' credit reports without their express permission.
What is identity theft exactly? It's where someone steals someone else's personal identifying information, usually for financially-motivated reasons. For example, an identity thief can steal someone else's name, date of birth, Social Security number, bank account information, driver's license number, or credit or debit card number.
Is Identity Theft a Federal Crime?
Identity theft is illegal under both state and federal law. On the state-level, identity theft is criminalized under Section 16-13-510, Financial Identity Fraud or Identity Fraud, which addresses various identity theft crimes. Stealing someone's personal identifying information includes, but is not limited to:
- Digital signatures
- Driver's license numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Credit and debit card numbers
- Bank account numbers
- PIN numbers
A violation under Sec. 16-13-510 is a felony, punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in prison. On the federal level, identity theft is criminalized under 18 U.S. Code § 1028. The penalties for identity theft as a federal crime depend on the circumstances of the case; however, as a general rule, the penalties for federal offenses are stiffer than they are for the same crime prosecuted on the state-level.
If you are accused of identity theft, you could be facing state or federal charges; it depends on what the state and federal prosecutors decide. If the crime was of a larger scale, it may be prosecuted in federal court. Either way, you need a hard-hitting criminal defense attorney from Masella Law Firm, P.A. by your side!
Accused of identity theft in Columbia? Call (803) 938-4952 today discuss your case!