Theft can be described as many things in New Jersey. One dictionary describes it as “the taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it.” Typically, when people think of theft, they assume it’s something tangible like an iPhone or a car. However, in today’s society, theft can also occur in the digital world. One of the fastest growing crimes in America is identity theft.

Last year, more than 12 million people were victims of identity theft. ID theft is the fastest growing financial crime. Within the last four years, ID theft has risen by 60 percent. Once an offender has someone’s identity, he or she can open new accounts in that person’s name or even take money out of their current accounts. ID theft has been the top complaint for the Federal Trade Commission for the last 13 years. Typically, when a wallet or something similar is stolen, victims notice right away, but ID theft can take a while to figure out.

To combat the increase in ID theft crimes, lawmakers passed a bill known as the Identity Theft Prevention Act, which requires businesses to destroy or shred personal documents that are no longer necessary for customers. It also ensures businesses will take steps to protect the personal and private information of their customers.

In the state of New Jersey, ID theft is highly illegal. Offenders can face harsh prison sentences and large fines if convicted. Depending on the value of the property taken, offenders may face a long time in jail. Anyone charged of such crimes may find a defense attorney to be of great value.

Source: NJ.com, “Opinion: Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America,” Silvio Laccetti, May 5, 2013