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Identity theft and fraud is the fastest growing crime in the U.S. It is wise to know the law when it comes to your credit, finances, and reputation. Identity theft used to be difficult to prosecute, but in 1998, Congress passed the first piece of identity theft legislation that dealt with the crime on a federal level. The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act punishes those who make use of or transfer another person's identification, punishable by a fine and maximum prison term of 15 years. This law also made the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the Office of Identity Theft, in charge of fielding complaints, educating the public, and assisting victims. In 2004, Congress passed the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, making aggravated identity theft punishable by an additional two or five years, depending on the crime: two additional years for using stolen credit identities to commit crimes and five additional years for committing identity theft for terrorism, immigration crimes, and weapons violations.
Because technology is always changing and evolving, so does identity theft and subsequent legislation. Some of the newest pieces of identity theft legislation up for vote in 2008 are the Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act and the Identity Theft Restitution Act. The Medicare Act will end the practice of printing Social Security numbers on Medicare cards, helping prevent identity thieves from easily obtaining the number. The Restitution Act gives victims of identity theft the ability to seek financial restitution from the perpetrators of identity crimes.