What to do If You Are Accused of Identity Theft

April 5, 2021

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, identity theft is on the rise in Canada, with an average of 27,000 victims in Canada every year. If you have been accused of identity theft, it is a serious charge, and it can be challenging to defend yourself even if you did not intend to misuse someone else’s personal identity. 

In this post, we’ll investigate the legal definitions of identity theft and take a look at what you need to know to help you understand the charges. We’ll also discuss what to do if you committed accidental identity theft and some of the strategies a successful lawyer can use to help you fight the charges. 

What Is The Legal Definition of Identity Theft?

According to the Criminal Code, “Identity Theft happens when an individual obtains another person’s identity information with the intent to use it to commit an indictable offence that includes fraud, deceit or falsehood as an element of the offence.” It is important to note that identity information can be anything from a credit card number to a fingerprint, DNA profile, driver’s license or social insurance number. 

Types of Identity Theft

Identity theft can take the form of impersonating someone else, stealing data electronically or even filing for a credit card under someone else’s name. You can also be charged with identity theft if you make use of a stolen credit card or make use of any personal identification typically found in a wallet. 

Identity theft also includes electronic activity such as phishing or other online scams designed to access banking, personal or computer information through email, texts or messaging apps.

Minimum Sentences for Identity Theft

Identity theft is considered fraud, and if you are convicted of fraud over $5000, you can face up to 14 years in prison. If the identity theft or identity fraud targets vulnerable individuals such as the elderly or those under 18, the penalties may increase. Fraud over $5000 is also a criminal offence, and if you are convicted, it can affect your ability to travel and take certain kids of employment. 

How A Lawyer Can Help Defend You Against Identity Theft Charges

Identity theft is a serious charge that comes with severe consequences if you are convicted. It is crucial to consult an experienced lawyer who can talk you through the charges and help you understand the case against you. A fraud lawyer can also help you with:

False Accusations

Your lawyer can also help defend you against false accusations of identity theft and make sure that all of the evidence, electronic or otherwise, is thoroughly examined so that you get a fair trial. 

“Accidental Identity Theft”

Sometimes, individuals get caught up in accidental identity theft, such as if a package or letter is delivered to the wrong address and forget to return the letter containing personal information. 

You can even be charged with identity theft if you do no benefit from the information, such as writing down another person’s credit card number. Even if you don’t buy anything, you are still committing identity theft. 

Mitigating Circumstances For Identity Theft

Mitigating circumstances are those that can be considered when deciding the offence of identity theft. A mitigating factor may be that a friend permitted you to use their name to apply for a credit card when your credit rating was low. This act is still illegal, but the information about the case may be considered a mitigating circumstance by a judge in sentencing.

If you or a loved one have been charged with identity theft, the best course of action is to contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer. William Jaksa is a criminal defence lawyer with over a decade of experience defending clients against identity theft and identity fraud charges. Contact William Jaksa today for a consultation.

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