What is Considered Internet Theft?

by Kelly Kovacic on January 22, 2013

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Internet theft has been on the rise over the last decade. As technology continues to grow, many criminals have developed a cottage industry of very lucrative cyber crimes. The illegal use, streaming and downloading of any web content, including personal information continues to be at the forefront of state and federal law legislation.

Types of Internet Theft

There is a very wide variety of information that could be subject to theft over the web, including email addresses, names, social security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, credit card and bank account information. Internet crooks are often able to target sites for this information and use it in the commission of further Internet and other crimes. Some of these activities are classified as:

  • Fraud
  • Identification Theft
  • Phishing and bulk email scams
  • Online piracy (illegally downloading content, videos and music)
  • Plagiarism
  • Social networking site criminal activities
  • Using Wi-Fi connection to perpetrate theft

Consequences of Internet Theft

The consequences of Internet theft can be so far reaching that it is impossible to cover how it can impact a person or a company. First, the time it takes to handle the matter can take years. Also, some people may even be involved in a computer crime at their company and not even be aware of their involvement. Plus, the loss of resources and the legal work required, are also something that few people are equipped to deal with adequately. According to the Law Offices of Steve Kellis, “Your best defense is an aggressive and experienced offense.” For anyone charged with Internet crimes, it would be very important to find a lawyer who has extensive experience with white collar crimes.

Victims of Internet theft can also suffer emotionally when their financial status, livelihood and future have been subject to this form of abuse. The devastation felt from credit information tampering, loss of life savings, income and other property can often never be repaired.

For businesses, the consequences of Internet theft can be just as damaging, if not more so, since it can affect more people. These crimes pose both creative and economic threat, as well as work opportunities for those whose content has been stolen, re-purposed or illegally sold. Due to the loss of income that poses economic threats to businesses that operate over the Internet, many companies have a vested interest in promoting legislative priorities to combat it.

Legal Penalties

Cyber-laws dealing with Internet theft encapsulate legal issues such as those covering aspects of criminal, contract and intellectual property laws dealing with Internet usage and access, privacy, theft and other areas. Those who are prosecuted under these new laws may be subject to both making restitution and serving federal prison time from three to five years or more.

For phishing scam prosecutions, those charged could receive an additional two years over the initial sentence. Internet laws are continually changing and expanding for the various violations and associated penalties with much attention on federal and even global mandates.

Anyone who is under suspicion of Internet theft should seek advice of counsel as soon as possible. As with any criminal matter, the longer a person waits for guidance and representation, the more difficult it could be to minimize sentencing.

Avoiding Internet Theft

The best way to avoid Internet theft is to guard personal financial and identification information and provide only what is necessary at all times. Use security programs to safeguard your computer and beware of impostors posing as businesses, that you have done business with, or governmental entities.

Unfortunately, there is not enough law enforcement or consumer advocate assistance to help the victims of these crimes. However, should you or someone you know be a victim or accused of Internet theft crimes, contact a lawyer who specializes in Internet law as soon as possible to minimize damages and protect your rights.

Kelly Kovacic is a paralegal who writes this article to bring awareness to the continual rise in Internet crimes. Professional help, especially from firms like the Law Offices of Steve Kellis, can be critical in turning around the lives of anyone accused of computer crimes, whether caused by their own negligence or the fault of another.

Kelly Kovacic

Kelly Kovacic

Kelly Kovacic is a paralegal who contributes articles for the legal community.
Kelly Kovacic

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