Identity theft is a crime in which the perpetrator "uses" another person's identity (most commonly the victim's Social Security number, birth date and other personally identifying information) to open fraudulent accounts. Stealing someone's identity can be achieved by digging through their trash or by more high-tech methods. Georgia identity theft laws characterize the crime as a felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison.
The basic provisions of Georgia identity theft laws are listed in the table below, while a more in-depth description follows. See FindLaw's Fraud and Financial Crimes section for more information about related crimes.
|Code Section||Ga. Code Ann. §§16-9-120 (1998) et seq.|
|Classification of Crime/Penalties||Identity theft is a criminal offense; not less than 1 nor more than 10 years imprisonment or a fine not to exceed $100,000, or both; restitution to any victims may be ordered|
|Who May Prosecute||Attorney General or district attorney in county where crime committed|
|Exemptions to Identity Theft Laws||Criminal statute does not apply to those who lawfully obtain credit information for a bona fide commercial transaction or who exercise rights of a creditor in good faith|
|Civil Lawsuit Allowed?||-|
|Civil Remedies Available||-|
Punishments for Identity Theft
In Georgia, identity theft is a felony. The minimum jail time for identity theft is one year in prison, but a judge could give a sentence of ten years depending on the severity of the harm caused. The judge can also give a fine of up to one hundred thousand dollars, in addition to the jail time.
Recourse for Identity Theft
Because identity theft is a crime (like fraud), it is punishable through jail time and fines, prosecuted by the Georgia Attorney General or local district attorney. Because identity theft also causes harm to an individual, that person may have a case in civil court against the identity thief. If the case is allowed, the person whose identity was stolen may be able to make a claim for any economic harm caused by the identity theft. In addition to the lost money the identity thief may have stolen, the victim may also be able to recover economic damages resulting from a lower credit score, or other opportunities lost because of the theft.
Methods for Identity Theft
Nowadays, when people think of identity theft, they often think of someone hacking into a computer to gain social security numbers, bank account numbers, and other personal identification information. Although this is a common tactic, identity thieves may gain the information by going through your trash and finding receipts or bank statements. You should also be wary of unsolicited phone calls, because you may not know if the person on the other end of the line is trustworthy. Calling and emailing directly, asking for personal information, is called "phishing", and can be very difficult to tell apart from legitimate requests.
Get Legal Help with Your Identity Theft Case in Georgia
Identity theft is treated as a serious crime in Georgia, and conviction can lead to fines and imprisonment. If you've been charged with identity theft in Georgia, it's a good idea to speak with a local criminal defense attorney who will be able to explain how Georgia identity theft laws apply to your case.
Contact a qualified attorney.