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Understanding Identity Theft in Illinois

Posted on in Identity Theft

identity theft, Skokie criminal defense lawyerAn Illinois man was recently given five years in prison for a series of identity theft schemes and failing to pay taxes. The convicted individual used other people’s credit card accounts without their consent or knowledge to purchase over $40,000 worth of goods at major retail stores. He was previously charged with related crimes in Wisconsin and Indiana. Some might call this man lucky. Identity theft schemes can result in up to ten years’ imprisonment and some large-scale operations have resulted in sentences as high as 30 years.

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft or identity fraud refers to crimes in which a person uses another individual’s personal information for their own financial gain. In many cases, this could mean using another person’s social security number, banking information, or credit card to make purchases. Individuals who commit these crimes may have watched a person enter a credit card or bank number over their shoulder, taken a picture of a credit card, or listened in on a phone conversation in which personal financial information was discussed. Another form of identity theft may occur when an individual responds to “spam” email which requests personal information such as passwords or banking account numbers. These emails may be disguised as official correspondence from a legitimate company or organization, but, in reality, are fraudulent.

Serious Concerns

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2014, approximately 7 percent of people aged 16 or older have, at some point, been victims of identity theft. The majority of these crimes involved unauthorized use of an existing financial account. Identity theft, however, can also include:

  • Falsifying government documents;
  • Government benefits fraud;
  • Credit card fraud;
  • Utilities fraud;
  • Bank fraud; and
  • Loan fraud.

Medical Identity Theft

Over the last several years, medical identity theft is one type of identity fraud on the rise in the United States. Criminals can hack digital medical records held by hospitals or doctor’s offices. According to Forbes, ninety-one percent of health care organizations had at least one instance of medical records theft during the last two years. Medical records not only contain personal medical data but also identifying information such as social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and billing information. These details may be used by the perpetrator to obtain medical care or procedures in the victim’s name. Medical information or insurance data can also be sold on the black market. Individuals without health insurance can then use the victims’ health insurance for their own medical needs.

Legal Counsel You Can Trust

If you have been charged with indentity theft or a related crime, contact an experienced Skokie criminal defense attorney right away. We can help you understand your options and will work with you to ensure your rights are protected. Schedule your free initial consultation at the Law Offices of Matthew R. Gebhardt, P.C., today.

Sources:

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/man-gets-5-years-for-identity-theft-tax-fraud/

https://www.ncjrs.gov/spotlight/identity_theft/facts.html

https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/identity-theft/identity-theft-and-identity-fraud

http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/05/29/why-medical-identity-theft-is-rising-and-how-to-protect-yourself/

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