Understanding Pennsylvania’s identity theft law

Pennsylvania specifically outlaws identity theft. The state criminal code says that an individual commits identity theft if he or she uses or possesses personal identifying information of another individual without permission for an illegal purpose.

According to the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, identity theft impacts more than 10 million people in America every year.

Identifying information

 The Pennsylvania identity theft law contains specific examples of personal information. Identifying information can include a name, Social Security number, birthdate, driver’s license number, bank account number, phone number, electronic signature or photograph. Any fact, document or image that is used to establish identity may constitute identifying information.

Methods and tactics

 Someone may steal personal information through a variety of methods:

  • Digging through the trash.
  • Sending phishing emails.
  • Stealing mail.
  • Installing a skimming device on ATMs and credit card processors to capture account information.
  • Pickpocketing or stealing a purse.

The Attorney General’s website lays out many ways that identity theft can occur.

Police reports

 A police report of identity theft acts as prima facie evidence in a case. This means that the law enforcement agency in question and the Attorney General may investigate and initiate criminal proceedings based on the police report. But other evidence may be able to rebut or disprove the information in the police report.


 When identity theft results in less than $2,000 in losses, it is a first-degree misdemeanor. If the loss is more than $2,000, it is a third-degree felony.