Citation[edit | edit source]

Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, Pub. L. No. 108-275, 118 Stat. 831 (July 15, 2004), codified at 18 U.S.C. §§1028, 1028A.

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Act amended Title 18 of the United States Code to define and establish penalties for aggravated identity theft and makes changes to the existing identity theft provisions of Title 18. Under the new law, aggravated identity theft occurs when a person “knowingly transfers, possess, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person” during and in relation to the commission of certain enumerated felonies.[1] This includes instances when identity theft has been used as one step in a process of more serious crimes, such as terrorist acts, immigration violations, and firearms offenses.

The penalty for aggravated identity theft is a term of imprisonment of two years in addition to the punishment provided for the original felony committed. Offenses committed in conjunction with certain terrorism offenses are subject to an additional term of imprisonment of five years. Examples of such federal crimes include theft of public property, theft by a bank officer or employee, theft from employee benefit plans, false statements regarding Social Security and Medicare benefits, several fraud and immigration offenses, and specified felony violations pertaining to terrorist acts.

The Act also directs the United States Sentencing Commission to "review and amend its guidelines and its policy statements to ensure that the guideline offense levels and enhancements appropriately punish identity theft offenses involving an abuse of position" adhering to certain requirements outlined in the legislation.

In addition to increasing penalties for identity theft, the act authorized appropriations to the Justice Department “for the investigation and prosecution of identity theft and related credit card and other fraud cases constituting felony violations of law, $2,000,000 for FY2005 and $2,000,000 for each of the four succeeding fiscal years.”

The Act directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to amend the federal sentencing guidelines so that individuals who gain access to the information used to commit identity theft at their place of employment face increased penalties.

Application to cybersecurity[edit | edit source]

While the number of reported incidents of identity theft fell in 2010, identity theft has generally been the fastest growing type of fraud in the United States over the past decade. FTC complaint data indicate that the most common fraud complaint received (19% of all consumer fraud complaints in 2010) has remained that of identity theft. In 2010, for instance, about 8.1 million Americans were reportedly victims of identity theft. This is a decrease of about 28% from the approximately 11.1 million who were victimized in 2009. Javelin Strategy and Research estimates that identity theft cost consumers about $37 billion in 2010.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 18 U.S.C. §1028A. Offenses that could give rise to aggravated identity theft are enumerated in this section, and include offenses relating to theft of public money, property, or rewards; theft, embezzlement, or misapplication by a bank officer or employee; theft from employee benefit plans; false personation of citizenship; false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm; mail, bank, and wire fraud; obtaining consumer information by false pretenses; and certain immigration violations. The list of enumerated offenses is codified at 18 U.S.C. §1028A(c).

Source[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

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