Identify theft, which is the fastest growing crime in America, is the fraudulent or deceptive use of another person’s identifying information in connection with some underlying crime. It is both a state and federal crime. Because of its fast-growing nature, the federal government, in addition to prosecuting the crime itself, has provided additional resources to local law enforcement to help the problem.
Both state and federal law refer to identifying information, which generally means any name or number that may be used, alone, or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual. This includes, but is not limited to, social security number, bank account information, driver’s license number, credit card number, finger prints, unique
In Colorado, there are five different scenarios that will qualify as Identify Theft. Four of these scenarios require that the person act “knowingly.” This means that the person is aware that his or her conduct is of such nature or that such circumstances exists as described in the statute. And that the person is aware that his conduct is practically certain to cause the result as described in the statute.
The five scenarios where a person commits identify theft are:
- Knowingly uses the personal identifying information, financial identifying information, or financial device of another without permission or lawful authority with the intent to obtain cash, credit, property, services, or any other thing of value or to make a financial payment; or
- Knowingly possesses the personal identifying information, financial identifying information, or financial device of another without permission or lawful authority, with the intent to use or to aid or permit some other person to use such information or device to obtain cash, credit, property, services, or any other thing of value or to make a financial payment; or
- With the intent to defraud, falsely makes, completes, alters, or utters a written instrument or financial device containing any personal identifying information or financial identifying information of another; or
- Knowingly possesses the personal identifying information or financial identifying information of another without permission or lawful authority to use in applying for or completing an application for a financial device or other extension of credit; or
- Knowingly uses or possesses the personal identifying information of another without permission or lawful authority with the intent to obtain a government-issued document.
The federal government has passed two laws criminalizing identity theft: “Identity Theft,” 18 U.S.C. § 1028 and “Aggravated Identity Theft,” 18 U.S.C. §1028A. The statutes are identical except that “Aggravated” specifies the underlying crimes in connection with the offence, and carries a mandatory two-year jail sentence.
Aggravated Identity Theft must be perpetrated in relation to a felony offence involving false citizenship; the avoidance of U.S. deportation/removal proceedings; immigration law violations; mail, bank and wire fraud; the acquisition of a firearm; theft of public money, property or awards; theft or embezzlement by a bank officer or employee; theft from an employee benefit plan; or social security benefits.