Identity Theft and Identity Fraud crimes in Michigan involve the unlawful use of the financial information of another person or company in a fraudulent manner. It is an offense that is treated seriously by Courts in because it harms a victim financially, often ruins or damages the victim’s credit, and sometimes wrongfully results in harassment from debt collectors. The common causes of Identity Theft are: stolen checks, stolen credit cards, stolen mail, consumer fraud by a waiter or clerk, internet scams, computer viruses, phishing email or text messages. Identity Theft accusations can be as simple as falsely filling out a credit application in someone else’s name, or the accusations can be elaborate multistate and multi country conspiracies in which there are falsely manufactured credit cards. The schemes can become so elaborate and convincing that persons without criminal intent are unknowingly tricked into participating.
In Michigan, Identity Theft is a 5 year maximum felony offense. There are sometimes interrelated charges such as fraudulent possession of a Financial Transaction Device, Uttering and Publishing, and Forgery that are also prosecuted. A conviction for Identity Theft can also carry a significant restitution award to the alleged victim. In Michigan the statute concerning Identity Theft, MCL 445.65, provides that: a person shall not do any of the following: with the intent to defraud of violate the law, use or attempt to use the personal identifying information of another person to do either of the following: obtain credit, goods, services, money, property, a vital record, a confidential telephone record, medical records or information, or employment OR commit another unlawful act. It is also unlawful, in Michigan, for an individual by concealing, withholding, or misrepresenting the person’s identity, to use or attempt to use the personal identifying information of another person to do either of the following: Obtain credit, goods, services, money property, a vital record, a confidential telephone record, medical records or information, or employment OR commit another unlawful act.
MCL 445.63(o) defines personal identifying information as a name, number, or other information that is used for the purpose of identifying a specific person or providing access to a person’s financial accounts, including, but not limited to, a person’s name, address, telephone number, driver license, or state personal identification number, social security number, place of employment, employee identification number, employer or taxpayer identification number, government passport number, health insurance number, financial transaction device account number or the person’s account password, stock or other security certificate or account number, credit card number, vital record, or medical records or information.
In any circumstance in which a criminal accusation such as Identity Theft or Identity Fraud is made, you should always take the time to discuss the situation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to see if a retainer agreement can be reached. The failure to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney may turn out to be your greatest regret – do not risk being legally represented by someone who does not care about you and your future. Contact Attorney Daniel Hilf today.