Identity theft involves unlawfully obtaining someone else’s personal information to use their identity for some reason, usually financial gain. This can include everything from forging checks to filing someone else’s tax return or even using a card skimming device. 

We understand how federal laws apply to identity theft and have helped many of our clients with their criminal defense cases. 

Laws that govern identity theft crimes 

According to the FBI website, two laws govern identity theft. The first law that passed in 1998 is the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. This law not only increased penalties and fines for identity theft but it also made it a federal crime to steal someone else’s personal information. Before this law, it was only producing or possessing fake identity documents, such as a passport or identification card, that was illegal. 

In 2004, another law expanded upon identity theft crimes. The 2004 Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act defined aggravated identity theft and set longer sentencing times for these crimes. Additionally, this law addresses other forms of identity theft that include immigration crimes or stealing someone else’s Social Security benefits. Domestic terrorism was also added under this law and is punishable by an additional five years for a terrorism offense. 

The prevalence of identity theft crimes 

Identity theft crimes increased by nearly 100% between 2010 and 2015. It is likely that as technology advances, new methods of obtaining someone’s personal information will emerge. In response, new laws will most certainly need to address this and establish penalties for future crimes. More information about this topic is available on our webpage.