Identity fraud is one of the most common white-collar crimes committed. It can be as simple as using someone’s ATM card without their permission to something more elaborate, such as using someone’s personal information to rack up credit card debt or even take out various loans. In Georgia, identity fraud is a serious crime with serious repercussions if convicted.
Here is an overview of Georgia’s identity fraud laws and penalties.
What is Identity Fraud?
Identity fraud, also known as “identity theft,” is a crime in which one person uses another person’s identity or personal data to open fraudulent accounts or to deceive someone else. This information can be acquired in many ways, including hacking into online accounts, phishing via telephone calls or emails, and even digging through trashcans. Some examples of identity fraud include using someone’s social security number to open a line of credit or using another person’s credit card or bank account without permission to make purchases.
According to O.C.G.A. §16-9-121, a person commits identity fraud when he or she willfully and fraudulently:
- Without authorization or consent, uses or possesses with intent to fraudulently use identifying information concerning a person;
- Uses identifying information of an individual under 18 years old over whom he or she exercises custodial authority;
- Uses or possesses with intent to fraudulently use identifying information concerning a deceased individual;
- Creates, uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use any counterfeit or fictitious identifying information concerning a fictitious person with intent to use such counterfeit or fictitious identification information for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of a crime or fraud on another person; or
- Without authorization or consent, creates, uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use any counterfeit or fictitious identifying information concerning a real person with intent to use such counterfeit or fictitious identification information for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of a crime or fraud on another person.
Identity fraud not only includes selling, but also purchasing or knowingly accepting, fraudulent or counterfeit identifying information. The exception is an individual under the age of 21 who use fraudulent information or identification for the purposes of doing things he or she is not legally of age to do, such as purchasing alcohol or obtaining entry into 21 and over establishments. These crimes may be addressed by other statutes.
Penalty for Identity Fraud in Georgia
In Georgia, identity fraud is a felony. This felony offense is punishable by a minimum of one year in prison, and up to 10 years in prison depending on the severity of the crime. Additionally, the court can also impose a fine of up to $100,000 and order the defendant to make restitution to the victim. Both the minimum jail time and the fine amount increase for subsequent offenses. A second offense could result in anywhere from 3 to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
What to Do If You Are Being Charged with Identity Fraud
Defending identity fraud charges can be very challenging, and any felony charge should be taken very seriously. If you have been charged or are being investigated for identity fraud in Georgia, you should consult with an experienced attorney immediately. Facing serious criminal charges, trials and litigation can be extremely stressful and life changing. With so much at stake, it’s imperative you seek seasoned legal counsel who can provide the most effective defense possible.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.