When a person steals your credit card number, Social Security number, or driver’s license number, they can use it to commit crimes. Making fraudulent purchases and applying for credit cards, loans, or other valuable things in the victim’s name are among the most common. Taking steps to prevent identity theft and responding to identity theft on your own are often the best bet. There are also state laws prohibiting identity theft. Here’s a summary of the Green Mountain State's identity theft offense.
Vermont Criminalizes Identity Theft
Vermont prohibits stealing someone’s identity for the purpose of committing a crime. It's illegal to obtain, produce, possess, use, sell, or transfer another person’s personal identifying information with the intent to commit either a felony or a misdemeanor. It’s also a crime to do so “knowingly or recklessly,” which covers passive acquiescence or disregard. Personal identifying information includes someone’s name, address, birth date, credit card number, driver’s license number, financial records, medical records, passwords, and Social Security number.
There are some important legal points to note. First, it’s a crime to do these things “with the intent to commit” a crime. This limits the scope of the law to criminals and criminal enterprises (identity theft is a common scheme). Second, consent is an affirmative defense. Personal identifying information is routinely exchanged in everyday life and ordinary commercial transactions. Vermont only criminalizes non-consensual use for the purpose of committing crimes such as theft, fraud, and forgery. Punishment ranges from a maximum of three years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for first-time offenders to a maximum ten years imprisonment and $10,000 fine for repeat offenders.
|Code Section||Tit. 13, § 2030.|
|Classification of Crime and Penalties||Felony. First-time offense is punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Subsequent offenses that are part of a separate scheme are punishable by up to ten years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.|
|Who May Prosecute||State|
|What Personal Identifying Information is Protected?||Your name, address, birth date, Social Security number, motor vehicle personal identification number, telephone number, financial services account number, credit and debit card numbers, educational records, health records, financial records, credit records, employment records, email address, computer system password, mother’s maiden name, and similar information are protected from use in committing a crime.|
|Defenses to Identity Theft Laws||Consent of the person whose personal identifying information is being used.|
Related Resources on Identity Theft Laws
Identity theft is both a crime and a consumer concern. You can find more information about criminal identity theft laws and consumer-related questions on these pages. For legal assistance, consider contacting a local consumer protection attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.