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What is the difference between theft and fraud?

by | Jan 15, 2021 | White Collar Crimes

While many Georgia residents may use the term identity theft and fraud interchangeably, the reality is that the two crimes are different from one another and involve different elements. If someone is facing criminal charges, it is important for them to understand what they have been accused of so that they can present a strong defense for themselves. While both involve taking something from another person without permission, there are distinct differences between the two.


Fraud is intentionally deceiving someone to make a profit. Another person is usually victimized in the process, as something valuable is taken from them. For example, in credit card fraud, one person’s credit card is used by another to make unauthorized purchases. This can be done by using a skimming device at an ATM, getting access to an online account or physically stealing the card from someone. Credit card theft can be considered a form of identify theft as well.


Theft involves taking something from another person without their consent. While it usually involves money, it can also be of property or other treasured things. One common form of theft is identify theft, though there are also many other types. Identity theft takes place if one’s personal information is taken to assume their identity. Social security information, health insurance policy information, birth date or bank account numbers are often used to gain one’s identity. Loans can be taken out in the victim’s name, credit cards opened and other steps may be taken to get economic gain at another person’s cost.

While credit card theft and identity theft are a form of financial crime that may not seem to affect anyone physically, it can have a financial and emotional effect on the victim. For this reason, the crimes are taken seriously by the authorities and punished accordingly. Those who are facing criminal charges regarding theft and fraud should consider consulting an experienced attorney to discuss their legal options for protecting their rights.