Identity theft is not a new problem, but it is a growing one in Utah. Glancing at the local booking reports on any given day will show more than one person arrested for having someone else’s information. There are several different ways in which identity theft can happen and reasons that lead people to the crime.
Credit fraud is a type of identity theft where the criminal steals another’s identity to fraudulently acquire something that would affect your credit score such as credit cards, loans, or other types of credit. This is what is typically searched for when individuals check their credit report annually.
Wage fraud isn’t as easily detected as it doesn’t show on the victim’s credit report. Wage fraud is simply using someone else identity to obtain employment. The victim’s credit is left untouched; however they may face problems come tax time.
Medical Identity Theft
A name, social security number, and insurance information is all that is needed for thieves to use a person’s identity to seek medical care, get prescription drugs, or take money from flexible spending accounts, or to scam the insurance companies themselves. The elderly are frequent targets for medical identity theft as they are more trusting when approached by those posing as insurance spokespersons and they often don’t keep track of their Medicare and other insurance billing online as much as younger generations.
Targeting our youth
While the elderly are common targets for medical identity theft, the newest victims of overall identity theft are young. The newest trend among identity thieves is obtaining the social security numbers for children who have no use for their social security numbers usually until they are of working age. If a young child or even a brand new baby has their social security number stolen, this gives the thieves up to 16 years to use the number, oftentimes undetected until the child starts work or needs a student loan. Teenagers applying for their first jobs or 18 year olds applying for student aid are surprised when they discover on their record are years of wages earned and thousands of dollars in debt racked up.
There are those out there who make a business are selling or using someone elses identity. They know they are committing a crime and they are well aware that they are hurting the victims of the theft. Unfortunately, there are also those who steal another’s identity because they feel stuck. A good example of this is ex-felons looking for work. Applying for most jobs requires background checks that include previous convictions. Having their past red flagged even though a felon’s debt to society has already been paid makes it difficult to survive in this economy. This can push them to use another’s information just to survive. Other reasons why thieves steal personal information include to:
• Obtain housing
• Purchase vehicles
• Acquire government medical insurance, such as Medicaid
• Get utilities such as water or electricity turned on at a residence
• Open credit cards or bank accounts
The law on identity theft
Utah code 76-6-1102 states that “A person is guilty of identity fraud when that person knowingly or intentionally uses, or attempts to use, the personal identifying information of another person, whether that person is alive or deceased, with fraudulent intent, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, employment, any other thing of value, or medical information.”
Whether for the purpose of hurting others for extra cash or just trying to make ends meet, identity theft is a crime. If the value of the stolen good or information is valued under $5,000, then it is considered a 3rd degree felony. If the amount is for over 5 grand then it is a 2nd degree felony. Although many things have a cash value, others are difficult to put a dollar amount on. For those that are facing charges for identity theft, consult with an Utah attorney to defend you in the crime and protect you against extravagant amounts added that can be added to increase your charges.