Identity Theft Punishment 
Increases to Fit the Crime

Identity theft is a crime. So what is the identity theft punishment? If you’re on the right side of the law, be encouraged.

If you’re thinking about committing identity theft, beware. If you commit identity theft, you can expect to spend an extended period of time in jail.

Identity theft is a growing crime, and the penalties are growing in proportion with increased jail times—in addition to the sentence passed for the crimes supported by the actual identity theft itself.

The first identity theft law, the Identity Theft Assumption and Deterrence Act, was passed by Congress in 1998. This law allows a penalty of up to 15 years of prison time.

identity theft punishment


Identity Theft Laws

In 2004, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act was signed. This law deals with identity theft punishment in more specific terms. It defines prison terms and other penalties depending on the specific nature of the theft. It increased jail time for identity theft to 3-5 years.

One thing that this law does is add two years of jail time to those who commit aggravated identity theft—in other words, stealing an identity for the purpose of committing other Federal felonies. This increase is above and beyond the sentencing for the actual Federal crime itself.

For identity theft involving terrorism, the penalty can go all the way up to 25 years of jail time for both international and domestic terrorism.

Methods Used for Identity Theft

Identity theft can occur on a number of different levels through a variety of means including;

  • phishing scams
  • cyber identity theft
  • digging through trash (better shred those documents)
  • over-the-shoulder-theft at an ATM or shared computer (those cell phone cameras have resulted in some unintended uses!), and
  • what is known as skimming (that innocent looking cashier just copied all the information on your credit card to use for criminal gain and the destruction of your credit record)


Personal and Financial Costs of ID Theft

Considering the havoc that identity theft causes in the lives of its victims, it is a good thing that identity theft punishment is becoming stiffer.

The hours of turmoil and stress spent resolving the resultant issues, the money spent obtaining legal advice or dealing with other agencies, the correcting of inaccurate credit reports... the list could continue. And this is just if you happen to catch it relatively quickly.

If unnoticed for an extended period of time, repairing identity theft damage can take years. It’s only fair that punishment for this act fits the crime.

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