What is Fraudulent Use of Personal Identification Information?
September 3, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense Social Share
Taking someone else’s personal information is against the law, and you can face criminal charges for doing so. Identity theft is a serious offense; from the wise words of Dwight Schrute from The Office: “Identity theft is not a joke, Jim! Millions of families suffer every year!”
We will cover the Florida Statute for fraudulent use of personal identification information, along with the penalties for the various versions of the crime.
Defining Fraudulent Use of Personal Identification Information
Florida Statute Section 817.568 defines the criminal use of personal identification as when an individual willingly and without authorization uses or possesses with the intent for fraudulent use of someone else’s personal identification information without their consent.
The term “personal identification information” can be any of the following used alone, or to identify a person:
- Any name
- Postal address
- Email address
- Telephone number
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Bank account number
- Credit or debit card numbers
- Mother’s maiden name
- Driver’s license information
- Tax or employer number
- Passport number
- Alien registration number
- Medicaid or food stamp numbers
- Specific biometric data including fingerprints, voice prints, retina or iris image
- Medical records
- Any other numbers or personal identification information to access a person’s financial resources
Penalties for the Fraudulent Use of Personal Identification
Simply possessing someone else’s personal identification information without consent can lead to criminal charges under Florida Statute Section 817.5685. Personal information can range from physical mail or documents, identity cards, or stored digital information. The statute does have an exemption for a parent/legal guardian, employees of governmental agencies possessing information for normal business purposes, or a person who simply finds the personal information and returns it.
It is important to note that the penalties for fraudulent use of personal identification information can vary depending on the value of the property or the financial gain from the fraud, as well as the number of victims who were affected.
The following is a list of penalties based on the value and victims targeted:
- If the value was less than $5,000 with less than 10 victims, a conviction can result in up to five years in prison.
- If the value was $5,000 or more with more than 10 victims, a conviction can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison, which can go up to 15 years.
- If the value was $50,000 or more with between 20-29 victims, a conviction can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, which can go up to 30 years.
- If the value was $100,000 or more with more than 30 victims or more, a conviction can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison, which can go up to 30 years.
What if the Information was not Used for Financial Gain?
Even if you do not plan to use the information for financial gain, it is still a crime to possess someone else’s information without first obtaining their consent. It is considered a first-degree misdemeanor to willfully and without authorization to use someone’s personal information, which is punishable with up to one year in jail.
What if the Personal Identification was Public Information?
Obtaining and using someone else’s information—even if it was public record—is considered a crime. For instance, if someone working in a clerk’s office took another person’s social security number, it would be illegal. In fact, using public records to obtain someone’s personal identification information is an enhancement to the initial charge. That means a first-degree misdemeanor would now be considered a third-degree felony, which is punishable with up to five years in prison.
What if the Personal Information was from a Deceased Person?
It is still against the law to obtain someone’s personal information even if they are dead. Under Florida law, it is considered a third-degree felony to commit fraudulent use of personal identification information where the victim is already deceased. Mandatory minimum sentences will be applied if the value was $5,000 or more, or if the number of deceased victims is over 10.
Special Victims and the Penalties
The following is a list of special victims for which fraudulent use of personal identification information is considered a second-degree felony, with penalties reaching up to 15 years in prison:
- People over the age of 60
- First responders
- Employees of the state of Florida
- Employees of the Federal Government
- Disabled adults
- Public servants
Possible Defenses to Fraudulent Use of Personal Identification Information
Getting accused of using someone else’s personal information can be stressful, but there are potential defenses that can be used in your case. The most common defense is that there was never any intent to defraud. Especially in the instance when the victim was a family member, friend, employee, or roommate. There is also the Statute of Limitations to consider. In order to prosecute for Scheme to Defraud, there is a 3-year window from the time of the crime, or a 1-year window from the time the victim realized the fraud took place. The best way to figure out what defense works for your case is to work with a skilled defense attorney.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime involving the possession of someone else’s personal identification information, it is important to reach out to a skilled defense attorney in your area. A criminal conviction can lead to harsh consequences such as expensive fines and imprisonment. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing individuals across Florida for various charges. We vow to stand in your corner throughout the entire legal process and fight for your freedom. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.
Written by Karissa Key