Have you recently been accused of identity theft in Plano, Dallas, or anywhere else in Texas? If so, it’s important to take these accusations seriously. According to Attorney General Ken Paxton, “Every year more than 25,000 Texans report being victims of identity theft with thousands more unaware that their information and bank accounts have been targeted.”
What is identity theft exactly? It’s where someone uses another person’s identifying information without their permission. The types of information stolen, includes the victim’s:
- Birth date
- Maiden name
- Credit card
- Driver’s license number
- Social Security number
- Bank account or PIN number
When people steal others’ personal information, it’s usually financially-motivated, but identity thieves also steal identification information for the purposes of immigration and health insurance fraud.
Often, those who steal people’s identities are in the position to do so because their jobs give them access to very personal information, such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers. For example, it’s very easy for people in the medical field or in billing to commit identity theft.
Identity thieves frequently use stolen information to open checking accounts, obtain auto loans and mortgages, apply for state benefits, obtain Green Cards, purchase goods or services (with credit cards), make international calls, purchase gasoline, and purchase products online etc.
Identity Theft Under Texas Law
In Texas, the various crimes that are categorized as identity theft can be found under Title 7, Chapter 32, Fraud, of the Texas Penal Code. Under this Chapter various fraudulent offenses are listed, such as forgery, criminal simulation, stealing checks, credit card abuse, deceptive business practices and more.
For example, credit card abuse under Section 32.31 is a state jail felony, unless the victim is an elderly person, in which case it would be a felony of the third degree. A state jail felony is punishable by up to 180 days in jail, and possibly by a fine up to $10,000, whereas a third-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison, and possibly by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
If you’re facing identity theft charges, contact our firm to meet with a Plano criminal defense lawyer!