A task force appointed by the Ministry of Justice believes identity theft should be criminalised.A fine would be a befitting punishment, the Ministry of Justice views.

THE USE of the identity of another person, so-called identity theft, is set to be criminalised in Finland, with a task force at the Ministry of Justice proposing that the offence be made punishable by the penalty of fine.

The Criminal Code of Finland currently does not recognise identity theft as an offence on its own account, although an offender impersonating another person may be convicted of other offences, such as fraud, forgery or defamation.

The task force proposes that offenders be sentenced of identity theft, if they have without authorisation used the personal details, identifying information or other unique identifiers of another person in an attempt to deceive a third party.

In addition, the act must have inflicted financial damage or harm, such as the costs incurred in investigating the offence. Harm, in turn, may be inflicted by creating a profile on social media with the obtained details, because the removal of such a profile can prove difficult.

The Office of the Prosecutor General has expressed its firm support for the enactment and has compiled real-world examples of the damage inflicted by identity theft. Such situations include impersonating a colleague in embarrassing situations, ordering sex equipment to a share house with the details of a co-inhabitant, and making restaurant reservations and hairdresser's appointments.

Such mischief may have serious repercussions, the Office of the Prosecutor General reminds.

"If drugs, for example, are ordered online using the name of another person, it is of course possible to think that the offender is punished when they are convicted of drug offence. Using the name of another person has, however, caused notable harm to the uninvolved party, because they may be treated as a suspect and subjected to official measures," the Office of the Prosecutor General points out in a statement presented to the Ministry of Justice.

Susanna Reinboth – HS