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Maryland Identity Theft Laws

Maryland treats fraud seriously, and there are numerous laws that cover obvious fraud and other offenses that are less clear. If you have been charged with fraud or identity theft, seek out the assistance of a Maryland identity theft lawyer.

Identity Fraud: Generally Section 8-301

In these sections, the term “personal identifying information,” pursuant to Section 8-301(a)(3), includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Social Security number
  • Place of employment
  • Employee identification number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Bank or other financial institution account number
  • Date of birth
  • Person Identification Number (PIN)
  • Credit card number
  • Any other payment device number

First, it is illegal for any person to (1) knowingly, intentionally and (2) with fraudulent intent (3) to possess, acquire, or help another possess or obtain (4) any personal identifying information of an individual (5) without that individual’s consent (6) in order to use, transfer, or sell the information to get a benefit, good, credit, service, or other thing of value in the name of the individual. Section 8-301(b). This is called obtaining personal identifying information without consent. Section 8-301(b).

Second, it is illegal for any person to (1) knowingly and intentionally (2) assume the identity of another person (whether or not that person is fictitious):

  • To avoid being apprehended, identified, or prosecuted for a crime, or
  • With intent to defraud and:
    • Get a benefit, good, service, credit, load, or other thing of value, or
    • Avoid paying a debt or other legal obligation. Section 8-301(c).

Third, under Section 8-301(d) it is illegal for any person to (1) knowingly, intentionally and (2) with intent to defraud (3) in order to obtain a benefit, credit, good, service, loan, or other thing of value, use:

  • A re-encoder (defined in Section 8-301(a)(4)) to place information encoded on one credit card onto another credit card, which allows the second credit card to make transactions without the consent of the original cardholder, or
  • A skimming device (defined in Section 8-301(a)(5)) to access, scan, read, obtain, store, or memorize personal identifying information or a payment device number on a credit card without the consent of the individual authorized to use the credit card.

Fourth, it is illegal under Section 8-301(e) for any person to (1) knowingly and intentionally (2) and with intent to defraud (3) possess, acquire, or help another acquire or possess a re-encoder device or skimming device (4) for the purpose of using, selling, or transferring personal identifying information or payment device numbers without authorization. This is called possession of re-encoder or skimming device. Section 8-301(e).

Fifth, it is illegal under Section 8-301(f) for any individual to (1) knowingly and intentionally (2) claim to represent another person without that person’s knowledge and consent (3) with the intent to request, solicit, or engage in any conduct to persuade someone to provide payment device numbers or personal identifying information. This is called representation without authorization. Section 8-301(f).

Penalties

If a person violates this section to avoid apprehension, identification, or prosecution for a crime, or if a person violates the subsections on possession of re-encoder or skimming devices or representation without authorization, then that person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Section 8-301(g)(4).

If a person violates any other part of this section to acquire $500 or more worth of benefits, credit, goods, services, or any other thing of value, then that person is guilty of felony identity fraud and faces up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000. Section 8-301(g)(1). If the value of the benefits, credit, goods, services, or anything else of value is less than $500 then that person is guilty of misdemeanor identity fraud and faces up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Section 8-301(g)(2).

If a person violates any part of this section under circumstances that reasonably indicate an intent to manufacture, dispense, or distribute another’s personal identifying information then that individual is guilty of felony identity fraud and faces up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. Section 8-301(g)(3).

Keep in mind, if a person violates this section multiple times as part of a course of conduct of violating this section, then the person can be considered guilty of one violation and the value of the benefits, credit, goods, services, or other things of value can be aggregated to determine whether the violation is a felony or misdemeanor (and accordingly, the penalties). Section 8-301(g)(5).

Blank or Incorrect Identification Card Section 8-302

With an exemption of lawful manufacturers of identification cards for employers, hospitals, or governmental units, it is illegal for a person to:

  • Sell, offer for sale, issue, or offer to issue an identification card or document where there is (1) a blank space for a person’s date of birth or age, or (2) an incorrect date of birth or age, or
  • Knowingly issue, sell, offer for sale, or offer to issue an identification card or document where there is (1) an incorrect name rather than a person’s true name, or (2) an incorrect address for a person. Section 8-302(b).

If a person violates this section, then that person is guilty of a misdemeanor for each blank or incorrect card and faces up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000 for each violation. Section 8-302(d).

Identity Fraud; Government Identification Document Section 8-303

Under these sections a “government identification document” is defined in Section 8-303(a) as any of the following documents for the US government, or any state or local government:

  • Passport
  • Immigration Visa
  • Alien Registration Card
  • Employment Registration Card
  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Military identification
  • Adoption decree
  • Marriage license
  • Driver’s License, or
  • Any photo identification card.

It is illegal for any person (1) with fraudulent intent (2) to:

  • Possess a fraudulently altered or fictitious government identification document;
  • Display or allow to be displayed, a fictitious or fraudulently altered government identification document;
  • Lend a government identification document to another person or knowingly allow another individual to use the person’s government identification document; or
  • Display or represent as the person’s own, a government identification document that was not issued to the person. Section 8-303(b).

If a person commits identity fraud by violating this section, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Section 8-303(c).

How a Maryland Identity Theft Lawyer Can Help

With the advent of the Internet, it has become increasingly easy to use others’ information for one’s own gains. However, it has also become much easier to do so unintentionally (e.g., if someone stays logged in to Amazon on a public computer). Identity theft convictions carry serious penalties including potential jail time and fines. If you have been charged with identity theft, contact a Maryland identity theft attorney today.