What’s the Definition of Identity Fraud in Ohio?

Broadly defined, identity fraud occurs when someone uses another individual’s personal identifying information without their consent. The most common type of identity fraud occurs with stolen credit cards and credit card numbers. When someone uses these financial devices to purchase goods or services, they can cost the merchant money because of disputes. Because identity fraud can cause harm to individuals and businesses, these matters are aggressively prosecuted.

What’s Identity Fraud?

Identity fraud doesn’t just occur when someone uses another person’s credit card or bank information. It’s an offense to obtain and pass off as one’s own any type of personal information that belongs to another individual.

Ohio lawlists the following as personal identifying information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Driver’s license
  • Driver’s license number
  • Identification card
  • Identification card number
  • Social Security card
  • Social Security Number
  • Birth certificate
  • Place of employment
  • Employee identification number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Bank account information
  • PIN
  • Password
  • Credit card number

Now, some people might think that it’s only an offense if the person whose information was used is alive. When something like their financial data is used, it’s causing harm to them because it’s resulting in losses. They might assume that using the personal identifying information of someone who’s no longer living isn’t illegal because that person does not have financial obligations. However, Ohio law explicitly states that using personal identifying information or a living or dead individual is illegal.

The law specifically prohibits the following acts when done with someone else’s information:

  • Use it to pass oneself off as the other person
  • Say the other individual’s information is their own

It is also unlawful for someone else to help another person use the personal identifying information of another. For instance, say Janelle knew where her mother kept her credit cards. She heard that her friend was looking to buy a TV but didn’t have enough funds on his card. Knowing that her mom had a limit high enough to make the purchase, she copied the credit card number for her friend and gave it to him.

Even if the personal identifying information is one’s own, they could be charged with identity fraud if they allow another person to use it. For their actions to be considered a violation of the law, they must have given their information to someone else with the intent to defraud a person or entity. For example, if it was Janelle’s own credit card number she gave her friend, and she was later going to dispute the television purchase, she would be committing identity fraud.

According to Ohio law, defraud means to knowingly obtain something personally beneficial or cause another individual to suffer a loss by:

  • Making a false or misleading representation
  • Withholding information
  • Preventing someone from obtaining information
  • Confirming or perpetuating a false impression of someone else

Identity fraud is a felony offense.

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