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Accused of identity theft by a relative or friend?

Oct 24, 2023 | Fraud

In Minnesota and throughout the country, using someone’s private information, such as a Social Security Number (SSN) or tax ID, may be grounds for prosecution in a criminal court. Even if you are unaware at the time that information you have used belongs to someone else, such as a supposed “bogus” SSN you purchased, you may still face arrest and charges for a crime. Identity theft carries stiff penalties under conviction.  

What if you use a family member’s ID card because you forgot your own and figured that you look similar enough to make it work? Is this identity theft? What if the family member allowed you to do it? Is it a crime? It’s important to understand the answers to these questions, especially if you’re facing charges for stealing the identity of someone you know. 

Yes, it is a crime to use another person’s ID 

It doesn’t matter if your family member was aware that you were going to use his or her ID, perhaps to get into a 21 and over club or something similar. Using someone else’s ID in an official capacity is illegal. The government classifies such acts as identity theft, even if your friend or relative gave you permission to do it.  

Sometimes, multiple areas of law intersect in cases regarding identity theft. For example, if you have emigrated from another country of origin to Minnesota and are under suspicion for using a false identity, you may be at risk of criminal charges, as well as deportation.  

Using personal information to commit fraud 

Perhaps you have access to a friend’s or relative’s private information, such as an SSN, tax ID or other bank account numbers. If you use this information for personal gain, such as to acquire a loan, you are committing fraud. Identity theft is a felony crime. You could incur substantial fines worth thousands of dollars if you face a conviction. You might also receive a prison sentence of up to 20 years, depending on the circumstances of your case. 

What to do if you become subject of an identity theft investigation 

Various entities, including but not limited to the FBI, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission, IRS and the Department of Justice, might be involved in an identity theft investigation in Minnesota. If you become subject to this type of investigation, it is imperative to pay close attention to everything the investigators say and do. If an arrest takes place, you have a right to due process of law.