ASSEMBLY, No. 3740

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JANUARY 11, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  LINDA STENDER

District 22 (Middlesex, Somerset and Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Clarifies that any use of another person’s personal identifying information is a crime.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the use of false personal identifying information and amending N.J.S.2C:21-17.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    N.J.S.2C:21-17 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:21-17. Impersonation; Theft of Identity; crime.

     a.     A person is guilty of an offense if the person:

     (1)   Impersonates another or assumes a false identity and does an act in such assumed character or false identity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or another or to injure or defraud another;

     (2)   Pretends to be a representative of some person or organization and does an act in such pretended capacity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or another or to injure or defraud another;

     (3)   Impersonates another, assumes a false identity or makes a false or misleading statement regarding the identity of any person, in an oral or written application for services, for the purpose of obtaining services;

     (4)   Obtains any personal identifying information pertaining to another person and uses that information, or assists another person in using the information, in order to assume the identity of or represent himself as another person, without that person's authorization and with the purpose to fraudulently obtain or attempt to obtain a benefit or services, or avoid the payment of debt or other legal obligation or avoid prosecution for a crime by using the name of the other person; [or]

     (5)   Impersonates another, assumes a false identity or makes a false or misleading statement, in the course of making an oral or written application for services, with the purpose of avoiding payment for prior services.  Purpose to avoid payment for prior services may be presumed upon proof that the person has not made full payment for prior services and has impersonated another, assumed a false identity or made a false or misleading statement regarding the identity of any person in the course of making oral or written application for services; or

     (6)   Uses the personal identifying information pertaining to another person, or assists another person in using that information, for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or another or to injure or defraud another.

     As used in this section:

     "Benefit" means, but is not limited to, any property, any pecuniary amount, any services, any pecuniary amount sought to be avoided or any injury or harm perpetrated on another where there is no pecuniary value.

     b.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2005, c.224).

     c.     A person who violates subsection a. of this section is guilty of a crime as follows:

     (1)   If the actor obtains a benefit or deprives another of a benefit in an amount less than $500 and the offense involves the identity of one victim, the actor shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree except that a second or subsequent conviction for such an offense constitutes a crime of the third degree; or

     (2)   If the actor obtains a benefit or deprives another of a benefit in an amount of at least $500 but less than $75,000, or the offense involves the identity of at least two but less than five victims, the actor shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree; or

     (3)   If the actor obtains a benefit or deprives another of a benefit in the amount of $75,000 or more, or the offense involves the identity of five or more victims, the actor shall be guilty of a crime of the second degree.

     d.    A violation of N.J.S.2C:28-7, constituting a disorderly persons offense, section 1 of P.L.1979, c.264 (C.2C:33-15), R.S.33:1-81 or section 6 of P.L.1968, c.313 (C.33:1-81.7) in a case where the person uses the personal identifying information of another to illegally purchase an alcoholic beverage or for using the personal identifying information of another to misrepresent his age for the purpose of obtaining tobacco or other consumer product denied to persons under 18 years of age shall not constitute an offense under this section if the actor received only that benefit or service and did not perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate any additional injury or fraud on another.

     e.     The sentencing court shall issue such orders as are necessary to correct any public record or government document that contains false information as a result of a theft of identity.  The sentencing court may provide restitution to the victim in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of P.L.2002, c.85 (C.2C:21-17.1).

(cf: P.L.2005,  c.224, s.2)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would amend N.J.S.2C:21-17 to clarify that it is a crime to use another person’s personal identifying information even when the actor does not know that the information pertains to another person.  Although it is currently a crime for anyone to obtain any personal identifying information pertaining to another person and use that information with the purpose to fraudulently obtain or attempt to obtain a benefit or services, or avoid the payment of debt or other legal obligation, it is not clear whether this statute applies to offenders who coincidentally use another person’s personal identifying information for fraudulent purposes by supplying information chosen at random.  In light of recent judicial decisions from other jurisdictions finding that, under certain circumstances, the use of a false Social Security number is not a crime, the sponsor wishes to clarify that any such activity constitutes a punishable offense in New Jersey.  Social Security numbers are included in the definition of “personal identifying information” in N.J.S.A.2C:20-1.

     False Social Security numbers may be used to obtain credit or as documentation to obtain employment.  An imposter may choose nine digits at random or purchase a false number from a “broker.” When this number belongs to another person, that person’s credit may be adversely affected or the person may be charged with offenses committed by the imposter.

     This bill would clarify that it a crime to use the personal identifying information of another, including a Social Security number, even when that information is chosen at random.  Although it would still be a crime to deliberately obtain and use such information, the use of false personal identifying information that coincidentally belongs to another person would be penalized to the same degree.  It is not the sponsor’s intent, however, that this legislation apply to situations where a person accidentally transposes digits in his own Social Security number or inadvertently provides another person’s personal identifying information when attempting to provide his own.