New Jersey State Victim Resources:
Phone: (609) 292-8740
Agencies that offer assistance to IDT victims:
Central Jersey Legal Services, Inc.
Program Phone: (732) 249-7600
Legal Assistance: (732) 249-7600
Essex-Newark Legal Services Project, Inc.
Program Phone: (973) 624-4500
Legal Assistance: (973) 624-4500
Legal Services of Northwest Jersey
Program Phone: (908) 231-0840
Legal Assistance: (908) 475-2010
Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation
Program Phone: (201) 792-6363
Legal Assistance: (201) 792-6363
South Jersey Legal Services, Inc.
Program Phone: (856) 964-2010
Legal Assistance: (856) 964-2010
Security Freeze Law:
State law allows all consumers to place security freezes on their consumer credit reports to prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in their names. Such a freeze enables the consumer to prevent anyone from looking at his/her credit file for the purpose of granting credit unless the consumer chooses to allow a particular business look at the information. To request a freeze, a consumer must request one in writing by certified mail or by a secure e-mail connection (if provided) to the credit reporting agencies.
There is no charge for placing a freeze, but the credit reporting agencies may charge a $5 fee for temporarily unlocking the freeze. The reporting agency must place the freeze within five business days after receiving the request, and within five days of placing the freeze must send a written confirmation of the freeze and provide the consumer with a unique personal identification number or password to be used by the consumer when providing authorization for the release of his credit for a specific party or period of time. Requests for a temporary unlocking of the freeze must be completed within three business days.
"How to Place a Freeze on Your Credit Report": http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/brief/securityfreeze.pdf
Mandatory Police Report Law for Identity Theft Victims:
Mandatory Police Reports
Under state law, a person who reasonably believes or suspects that he has been the victim of identity theft may contact the local law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where he resides. Even if the jurisdiction lies elsewhere for investigation and prosecution, the agency must take the complaint and provide the complainant with a copy of the complaint, and may refer the complaint to a law enforcement in a different jurisdiction. A complaint filed under this section is not required to be counted as an open case for purposes such as compiling open case statistics.
Identity Theft Passport Law:
No State law at this time.
Identity Theft Laws:
In New Jersey, identity theft is covered under the wrongful impersonation statute. A person is guilty of the offense if he:
- Impersonates another or assumes a false identity and acts in such assumed identity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or another or to injure or defraud another;
- 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 or for the purpose of obtaining services; or
- Obtains any personal identifying information pertaining to another person and uses that information, or assists another person in using the information, 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.
If the violator obtains a benefit less than $500, and the offense involves the identity of one victim, it is a fourth degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000. Second or subsequent offenses are a third degree crime, punishable by three to five years in prison and/or a fine up to $15,000. If the value is between $500 and $75,000, or the offense involves the identity of at least two but less than five victims, it is a third degree crime.
If the value is above $75,000, or the offense involves the identity of five or more victims, it is a second degree crime, punishable by five to ten years in prison and/or a fine up to $150,000. This offense does not include cases where the person uses the personal identifying information of another to misrepresent his age for the purpose of obtaining tobacco or alcohol.
It is a fourth degree crime to knowingly distribute, manufacture, or possess any item containing personal identifying information of another person, without his/her authorization, and with knowledge that the actor is facilitating a fraud or injury to be perpetrated by anyone. If the person distributes, manufactures, or possesses 20 or more items containing personal identifying information pertaining to another person, or five or more items containing the personal identifying information pertaining to five or more separate people, it is a third degree crime. It is a second degree crime if the person distributes, manufactures, or possesses 50 or more items containing the information of another person, or ten or more items containing the information of five or more separate people.
It is a second degree crime to use a fraudulent identity document, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued document, or the identity documents of another person to obtain a government-issued document used to verify identity or other identifying information.
Other Related Laws:
Judges can order defendants convicted of identity crimes to pay restitution to the victim for costs incurred in clearing his/her credit history or rating, or in connection with any civil or administrative proceeding to satisfy any debt, lien, or other obligation of the victim arising as a result of the actions of the defendant.
Victims have the right to recover damages in a civil suit. A court may award a victim of identity theft who suffers any loss of money or property, real or personal, as a result of the use of his/her personal identifying information, damages in an amount three times the value of all costs incurred as a result of the criminal activity. These costs may include, but are not limited to, those incurred by the victim in clearing his credit history or credit rating, or those incurred in connection with any civil or administrative proceeding to satisfy any debt, lien, or other obligation of the victim arising as a result of the actions of the defendant. The victim may also recover costs incurred for attorneys' fees, court costs, and any out-of-pocket losses.
On motion of a person who has been the victim of identity theft, the court may grant an order directing all consumer reporting agencies doing business in the state to delete those items of information from the victim's file that were the result of the unlawful use of the victim's personal identifying information. At the request of the victim, the consumer reporting agency must provide notification of the deleted items to any person specifically designated by the victim who has within the past two years received a consumer report for employment purposes, or within one year has a received a consumer report for any other purpose, that contained the deleted or disputed information.
False Government Documents
It is a second degree crime to sell, offer to sell, or possess with the intent to sell a document that falsely purports to be a driver's license, birth certificate or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person's identity or age or any other personal identifying information. It is also a second degree crime to knowingly make or possess devices or materials to make such false government documents. It is a third degree crime to knowingly exhibit a false government document, and a fourth-degree crime to possess such a false document.
It is a fourth degree crime to make or cause to be made, either directly or indirectly, any false statement in writing, knowing it to be false and with intent that it be relied on, respecting a person's identity or that of any other person, firm or corporation, or his/her financial condition or that of any other person, firm or corporation, for the purpose of procuring the issuance of a credit card.
A person is guilty of credit card theft, a fourth degree crime, if he takes or obtains a credit card from the person, possession, custody or control of another without the cardholder's consent or who, with knowledge that it has been so taken, receives the credit card with intent to use, sell, or transfer it to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder. A person who has in his possession or under his control credit cards issued in the names of two or more other persons or two or more stolen credit cards is presumed to have committed credit card theft.
It is also a fourth degree crime for any person to:
- Receive a credit card that he knows to have been lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the identity or address of the cardholder, and who retains possession with intent to use, sell, or transfer it to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder;
- Other than the issuer, sell a credit card or buy a credit card from a person other than the issuer;
- Other than the cardholder or a person authorized by him who, with intent to defraud the issuer, or a person or organization providing money, goods, services or anything else of value, or any other person, sign a credit card. A person who possesses two or more credit cards which are so signed is presumed to have violated this paragraph; or
- Receive anything of value knowing or believing that it was obtained by credit card theft.
It is a third-degree crime for a person to, with intent to defraud the issuer, a person or organization providing money, goods, services, or anything else of value, or any other person:
- Use a credit card to obtain money, goods, services, or anything else of value that was obtained or retained fraudulently or one that he knows is forged, expired, or revoked,
- Obtain money, goods, services, or anything else of value by representing without the consent of the cardholder that he is the holder of a specified card or by representing that he is the holder of a card and such card has not in fact been issued;
- Use any counterfeit, fictitious, altered, forged, lost, stolen or fraudulently obtained credit card to obtain money, goods or services, or anything else of value; or
- With unlawful or fraudulent intent, furnishes, acquires, or uses any actual or fictitious credit card, whether alone or together with names of credit cardholders, or other information pertaining to a credit card account in any form.
State law prohibits the unauthorized use of scanning devices to access or scan the encoded information on any ATM, debit, credit or other payment card. It is also a crime to use a re-encoder to place the information encoded on the magnetic strip onto a different card without permission. It is a third degree crime for a person, with the intent to defraud an authorized user of a payment card, the issuer of the authorized user's payment card or a merchant, to use a scanning device or re-encoder. It is a fourth degree crime for a person to knowingly possess such devices with intent to commit the above violation.
Disposal of Records
To prevent identity theft, state law restricts how businesses can dispose of paper records with personal identifying information about individuals. The law requires businesses and state or local government agencies to destroy, or arrange for the destruction of, a customer's records within its custody or control containing personal information, which is no longer to be retained by the business or public entity, by shredding, erasing, or otherwise modifying the personal information in the records to make them unreadable, undecipherable, or non-reconstructable. Violations are punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed $3,000 for each violation, injunctive relief and actual damages, costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
The law defines personal identifying information as an individual's first name or initial and last name linked with any of the following data elements: Social Security number; driver's license number or state identification card number; or account number or credit or debit card number, in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual's financial account.
Social Security Numbers
State law places limits on the use and dissemination of Social Security numbers (SSNs). The law prohibits the intentional communication of an individual's SSN, or any four or more consecutive numbers of the SSN, to the general public, and restricts the ability of businesses to print SSNs on a mailing or on any card or tag required to access products, or services, unless state or federal law requires it. It also prohibits requiring an individual to transmit his SSN over the Internet unless the connection with the Internet is secure or the number is encrypted. The law also prohibits requiring an individual's SSN for access to an Internet website, unless a password or unique personal identification number or other authentication device is also required for access. Unauthorized use of a Social Security number is punishable by a $3,000 fine for a negligent violation, and a $5,000 fine or up to 15 days imprisonment, or both, for knowingly violating this section. An aggrieved individual may recover actual damages or $5,000, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.
State law requires state and local government agencies and businesses operating in the state that collect and maintain computerized records containing consumers' personal information to notify consumers when their personal information is compromised during a security breach, putting them at risk of identity theft. A security breach occurs upon "unauthorized access to electronic files, media or data containing personal information that compromises the security, confidentiality or integrity" of such information. Personal identifying information is defined as a first name or first initial and last name linked with one or more of the following: Social Security number, driver's license number, or credit or debit card number in combination with any required access code. Publicly available information is not included.
Disclosure must occur to any resident of the state whose personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, accessed by an authorized person. The disclosure must be made in the most expedient time possible, and without unreasonable delay, consistent with legitimate needs of law enforcement. Before notifying consumers, businesses and public entities must first report the breach to the New Jersey State Police and receive notification that disclosure will not compromise a law enforcement investigation. The consumer reporting agencies must also be notified when the breach is disclosed to more than 1,000 people at a time.
Notification can be provided to the affected persons by mail or e-mail. If the cost of providing regular notice would exceed $250,000, the amount of people to be notified exceeds 500,000, or the entity or business not have sufficient contact information, substitute notice may be provided. When substitute notice is used, it must consist of all of the following, as applicable: e-mail notice, conspicuous posting on the entity's web site, and notification to statewide media.
Denial of Credit
State law prohibits businesses from denying a person credit, or from refusing to increase a person's credit limit, based solely on his/her status as an identity theft victim.