In the age of the Internet, with rampant use of e-mail and social media, the crime of identity theft threatens most everybody. Identify 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. Some perpetrators of this crime use "social engineering" tactics, which include calling unwitting victims and pretending to be bank representatives (for example), then conning them into giving up sensitive personal information.
Pennsylvania identity theft laws characterize the crime as a first-degree misdemeanor if it is a first offense and the total value involved is less than $2,000, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Offenses involving more than $2,000 or related to a criminal conspiracy are charged as third-degree felonies, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
According to state law, "a person commits the offense of identity theft of another person if he possesses or uses, through any means, identifying information of another person without the consent of that other person to further any unlawful purpose."
The basic provisions of Pennsylvania identity theft laws are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's Fraud and Financial Crimes section for more information about related crimes.
|Code Section||18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §4120|
|Classification of Crime/Penalties||If loss is less than $2,000: misdemeanor of the 1st degree; if loss is greater than $2,000: felony of the 3rd degree; if victim is 60 yrs. old or older or a care-dependent person: offense is one grade higher In addition to other sentence, the court may order restitution to victim for attorneys fees, fees of credit bureaus to correct credit record, court costs and filing fees incurred to investigate theft, bring or defend suit related to the theft, or to take action to correct credit record|
|Who May Prosecute||Attorney General has authority to investigate and prosecute if crime occurs in more than one county or in another state|
|Exemptions to Identity Theft Laws||-|
|Civil Lawsuit Allowed?||-|
|Civil Remedies Available||-|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Pennsylvania Identity Theft Laws: Related Resources
Accused of Identity Theft in Pennsylvania? Get Legal Help
Identity theft has several technical elements to it, and a Pennsylvania prosecutor will need to prove each one beyond a reasonable doubt. So, if you've been charged with violating Pennsylvania identity theft laws, it's best to contact a local criminal defense attorney who will know the best way to defend against the charges.
Contact a qualified attorney.