Pennsylvania Identity Theft Laws
In the age of the Internet, with rampant use of e-mail and social media, the crime of identity theft threatens most everybody. Identify theft is a crime in which the perpetrator “uses” another person’s identity (most commonly the victim’s Social Security number, birth date, and other personally identifying information) to open fraudulent accounts.
Stealing someone’s identity can be achieved by digging through their trash or by more high-tech methods. Some perpetrators of this crime use “social engineering” tactics, which include calling unwitting victims and pretending to be bank representatives (for example), then conning them into giving up sensitive personal information.
Pennsylvania identity theft laws characterize the crime as a first-degree misdemeanor if it is a first offense and the total value involved is less than $2,000, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Offenses involving more than $2,000 or related to a criminal conspiracy are charged as third-degree felonies, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
According to state law, “a person commits the offense of identity theft of another person if he possesses or uses, through any means, identifying information of another person without the consent of that other person to further any unlawful purpose.”