Identity Theft and the Law, Part II
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Are there newer laws for the crime of identity theft?
Aggravated identity theft is defined as the fraudulent use of another person's identity to commit certain crimes like terrorist acts, mail fraud, firearms offenses, Social Security fraud, government theft, and visa or passport fraud. The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004 increased existing penalties for identity theft crimes, making aggravated identity theft a criminal act. It also established more extensive sentencing for identity theft:
- A mandatory five-year prison term for identity theft crimes that assist terrorist acts.
- A two-year prison term for non-terrorism related identity theft convictions.
- No time served on probation for those convicted of identity fraud.
- Along with federal identity theft punishment, states have their own punishments, including fines and jail time.
Even with newer laws and increasing awareness of this crime by watchdog agencies, the majority of identity theft cases never go to court. One of the biggest obstacles is that the crime may occur out of state, making it difficult for the victim to appear in court. Often, identity theft involving cybercrimes originating out of country. This problem is currently being addressed by many state and local governments, making it easier to convict and punish identity thieves.