From the earliest age, you learned who you are. You learned to write your name, and that name identified you to your teachers and friends. As you grew, your identity became attached to many important things – your children, your Arkansas home, your job. However, the many assets and accomplishments a person acquires through his or her identity are constantly vulnerable to identity theft.

The effects of identity theft can be long reaching. Victims of this crime may not even realize it has happened until the damage is complete, and they may spend years trying to repair their credit ratings and reputations. Because of the destruction identity theft can bring about, Congress made it a federal crime, which heightened the consequences for those convicted of the offense. If you are facing these charges, you have every reason to be concerned.

The elements of identity theft

Identity theft occurs when a person takes someone’s personal information and uses it fraudulently for personal profit. This may be financial gain or for some other nefarious purpose.

If you are facing these charges, it may be because authorities suspect you of the following:

  • You used someone else’s identity to commit a crime.
  • You helped someone else steal a person’s identity in order to commit a crime. This identifying information may have included credit card numbers, credit history, social security numbers or PIN numbers.
  • You knowingly committed these acts.

Crimes committed through identity theft may include fraudulently obtaining credit cards, making purchases, taking out loans, applying for government benefits, procuring firearms and others.

If authorities accuse you of committing this crime, they may believe you either accessed that personal information through someone’s bank account or government documents or that you stole the information directly from another person’s mail, wallet or debit card. Some people find a victim’s personal information by going through the trash for pieces of mail or confidential documents. More sophisticated methods include accessing sensitive information through the internet.

The potential consequences

A conviction for identity theft may result in serious penalties, including extended time in prison. Additionally, if you are accused of using someone else’s identifying data to commit a felony or commit a terroristic act, you may face additional time behind bars.

If authorities have charged you with this crime, they may have been investigating you for some time. They likely have evidence and experts ready to support their case. In light of this, you could also benefit from having a solid defense in place when the time comes to face these accusations in a court of law.