The office of the Maryland Attorney General states that identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, affecting an estimated 10 million Americans each year. Maryland residents are unfortunately not immune and are cautioned to try and protect their personal information; in 2005, MD was ranked 11th in the country for identity theft cases.
A common example of identity theft is when an individual uses your personal information to open a credit card account in your name. Identity thieves can obtain a MD resident’s private information a number of ways, including:
- Stealing mail;
- Stealing wallets or purses;
- Sifting through trash or “dumpster diving” for mail or documents with personal information;
- Phishing (sending e-mails posing as a legitimate business asking for information); or
- Overall using of false pretenses to obtain private information (known as pretexting).
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and law enforcement across the country take the growing crime of identity theft very seriously. Any offender convicted of the crime of identity theft will likely pay a very high price. In Maryland, identity theft charges vary based on the total amount of financial losses incurred during the crime. For a financial loss to the victim of less than $500, the crime is considered a misdemeanor and can carry a maximum 18-month prison sentence or a $5,000 fine (or both). If the financial loss is more than $500, it will be considered a felony crime and the punishments will be more severe. A person convicted may face up to five years in prison or a fine of $25,000, or both. In addition, a convicted identity thief will likely be ordered to pay both legal fees and any costs associated with the victim repairing their credit record.
A convicted identity thief in the state of Maryland will certainly face heavy fines and possibly time in prison, so hiring a skilled Waldorf theft defense lawyer can help a person avoid severe and harsh punishments. At the law firm of Alpert Schreyer, we have a wealth of experience defending MD residents charged with the crime of identity theft and we will work diligently to protect your legal rights. If you are in need of legal counsel, call (800) 489-1577 for a free case evaluation.