While identity theft has been around for years, the punishment for identity theft has changed dramatically over time. With the advent of the internet, the penalties for this crime have become much more stringent.
Identity Theft Act
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act was the first law pertaining to the punishment for identity theft. Prior to this act, most identity thieves were arrested and punished for the crime leading to the identity theft, like purse snatching or stealing a wallet. The Identity Theft Act actually makes it a federal crime to steal an identity with the intent to use it in some criminal activity.
Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act
The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act was created to make the punishment for identity theft harsher. Criminals who use an identity to commit a crime will get five years for stealing the identity plus two years for using the identity in the course of committing another crime. A thief who steals an identity and then uses it to commit a domestic or international act of terrorism can now get up to 25 years in prison with no opportunity for parole.
Each state has its own laws on top of the mandatory felony punishment. Therefore, an identity thief can be punished at the state level as well as the federal level.
Consumer Identity Theft Laws
There are also several laws to aid a consumer who is a victim of identity theft. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to make corrections to your credit report and only permits your credit report to be released for true business purposes. This act also allows you to get a free copy of your credit report from each credit agency every 12 months. This way you can review and identify any errors or possible incidences of fraud.
The 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act provide an individual with certain rights if they are a victim of identity theft.
The Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liabilities on fraudulent charges to credit accounts. It also lays out procedures to follow in order to correct billing errors.
Electronic Fund Transfer Act protects a consumer from fraud as a result of an electronic transaction. The liability of the victim is limited on each fraudulent transaction.