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Overview of identity theft

People in Maryland may be charged with identity theft if they use another individual's personal information to commit fraud. Typically, a person is accused of identity theft if they profit or attempt to profit financially by using another person's Social Security number, PIN or other identifying information.

Congress classified identity theft as a crime after a case in which a man used another person's name to take out credit cards and rack up $100,000 in debt. The man had also taken out a federal home loan and purchased handguns and motorcycles using personal data that was not his own. Although the man served a short prison sentence for purchasing a firearm using fraud, he was not ordered to pay any restitution to the victim. Today, people can face much harsher sentences if they are found guilty of committing identity theft.

Identity theft sometimes takes place after a security breach at a government office or bank. People may also be accused of obtaining someone's personal data to commit identity theft by going through their mailbox, wallet or trash can. Cases of identity theft have also involved accusations that a person used the Internet to find another individual's personal data in order to commit fraud.

A person who has been charged with an Internet crime involving identity theft may want to meet with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss defense strategies. Depending on the details of the case, an attorney may choose to argue for a lesser charge by explaining that the defendant was not intending to profit financially from the personal data that was obtained.

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