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Identity theft can result in serious penalties

There are many forms of identity fraud, but generally, a person may face criminal charges if they wrongfully collect and use another person's personal information to commit a fraud.

According to Ohio identity theft law, it is against the law for someone to use, possess or obtain someone's personal identifying information without consent. This information typically includes the person's Social Security number, birth date, driver's license number, PIN numbers and credit information. Many offenders access this information by stealing someone's wallet or purse or rummaging through someone's trash for bank statements and old tax records.

Once the information is collected, you could be charged with identity theft if you used the information to commit a fraud for economic gain (e.g. money, items of value). Even if you don't plan to use the information yourself, you could still be charged with identity theft if you give someone information about yourself with the intent to commit a fraud.

In Ohio, minor identity theft offenses without actual financial loss are considered fifth degree felonies, resulting in six to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. The penalties increase significantly as the amount of financial loss increases. For example, fraud resulting in $7,500 to $150,000 in losses constitutes a third-degree felony, meaning that the perpetrator could face nine months to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The most severe cases are first degree felonies for any fraud committed against the disabled, elderly or active duty service members and fraud resulting in over $150,000 in losses. First degree felonies could result in three to 11 years in jail and $20,000 in fines.

Identity theft is a serious crime in Ohio and could result in severe criminal penalties. For a thorough case evaluation and legal advice, consult with a criminal defense attorney in your area.

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