Identity theft means using another person’s identity
In a situation where another person’s identity is used, it is a case of identity theft. The offender intenionally misleads a third party by using someone else’s personal information, identity information or other such personal information. This may mean acting as another person on social media, concluding hire purchase or online purchase or magazine orders in another person’s name.
Identity theft is not punishable as referred to in the Criminal Code, if it does not cause financial damages or any harm to the victim. Financial damages can occur, for example, if the victim has to investigate the situation. Harm also covers situations in which case the situation has not caused financial damages to the victim.
It is not always a case of identity theft, for example, in cases where there is no risk of being mislead. If it is, for example, clear that it is a case of a joke or satire, or if the person presents themselves with a name or nickname in order to remain anonymous, and his/her purpose is not to mislead anyone.
On the 4th September 2015, identity theft became punishable and a fine can be issued. It is common that identity theft is used for committing other crimes as well. Identity theft is usually not realised until in situations, where other crimes have been committed in another person’s name.
The use of another person’s identity is not always punishable as identity theft, it may also be punishable under a different criminal provision. In this case, it may be, for example, fraud, counterfeit, defamation or disclosure of information that infringes privacy. It is important to report the situation to the police, who will determine the criminal charges under which it will be investigated.
The prosecutor shall determine, on the basis of the consideration of charges, whether the identity theft shall be handled in court. It requires that the victim of identity theft has reported it to the police and preliminary investigation have been undergone. Because it is a case of an offense in which the prosecution rests with the plaintiff, the victim must also demand punishment for the offender.
Identity theft consequences for victims of crime
It is important tha identity theft is understood as a crime, which causes a lot of harm and trouble, anxiety and the sense of insecurity to the victim. Consequences of identity theft may last for a long time and coping may require personal help. The situation may seem uncontrollable, because the victim does not know what has been done or what can be done with his/her identity. Coping and minimising damages is often very time consuming and complicated, and it is not made any easier with the uncertainty and stress caused by the offense.
Identity theft and other crimes done with stolen identity, such as bullying and fraud, cause both financial and moral damage to the victim. At worst, the victim may suffer for years with acts committed with the stolen identity. Victim Support Finland offers support and advice to people who have become victim of identity theft.