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What Is The Punishment For Identity Theft?

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More and more, as time goes on, you hear about identity theft and fraud. It seems like there are more ways now than ever for this type of crime. However, what all do you know about the consequences of identity theft? Following is an overview of how identity theft and like-minded crimes are punished.

Former President George W. Bush signed a law called the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act in 2004 which required harsher punishments for perpetrators of this harmful crime. This act altered the degree of punishment for certain identity theft crimes while also escalating what was previously considered as a misdemeanor to be classified as a felony. Many said that this law was a long time coming, as identity theft has been a serious problem for quite a while now.

Following are some of the changes that were made with the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act:

• An increase of the maximum federal prison sentence for identity theft was increased from three to five years.
• Those that were found guilty of phishing scams got an extra two years of time added to their sentence.
• A new crime was added to the list of offenses called Aggravated Identity Theft. This involves a person committing a federal offense (for example, immigration violations, government theft, Social Security fraud) using the stolen identity. This law states that in this case, the criminal may be charged with more than one offense: identity theft along with aggravated identity theft. Two addition years are added to the sentence for aggravated identity theft.
• Under aggravated identity theft, any offenses that are terrorist-related will have an extra five years slapped on to the sentence.
• The maximum sentence for identity theft for a terrorist act is twenty-five years, which applies to both domestic and international terrorism.
• Anyone convicted of identity theft that can be said to be a person of trust will have to deal with additional penalties for abuse of power.

Each state has its own laws in addition to the mandatory federal punishment. This means that a person convicted of identity theft can be punished on two levels: the state level as well as the federal level.

In general, when it comes to identity theft, the simplest penalty a criminal can incur is compensation for any loss experienced. However, if the crime is more severe or serious, punishment can range from a $50,000 fine plus a maximum of five years in prison to a $100,000 fine plus a minimum of ten year sin prison.

While this increase in punishment is fantastic and shows that the country is on the right path in treating identity theft with severity and all seriousness, it still isn't going to make identity theft disappear completely. The best thing for you to do is research the various ways that you can protect your personal information to prevent ever becoming a victim of identity theft.

Katrina Robinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina. She writes about a wide variety of topics including health, fashion, finances, and business credit cards, and balance transfer credit cards.
 
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