Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement

By: Claire Van Beek and Emma Van Alstine

What is the law about and when was it made?

The new law strengthens penalties against identity fraud by setting up sentencing guidelines for those who possess another's identification-related information with intent to commit a crime. It was made in July in 2004

Why make the bill?

Identity theft topped the list of consumer fraud complaints to the Federal Trade Commission in 2003, accounting for more than half of all the complaints tracked by the agency. The FTC recorded 214,905 cases of identity theft in 2003, up from 161,836 in 2002.

Extra Penalties

Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act [ITPEA] says that anyone who, while engaged in any of a long list of crimes, knowingly "transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority" someone else's identification will be sentenced to an extra prison term of two years with no possibility of probation. Committing identity fraud while engaged in certain major crimes sometimes associated with terrorism--such as aircraft destruction, arson, airport violence or kidnapping top government officials--gets an automatic extra five years.

What triggered them to pass the act?

In a report published last September, the FTC estimated that identity theft claimed 9.9 million victims in 2002, costing businesses and consumers $53 billion. The report, based on a telephone survey of more than 4,000 adults, estimated that as many as 27.3 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in the last five years.

Why is identity theft such a big issue?

My people shop online now days because it is more convenient and is less time consuming. Which then makes it easier for identity thefts to steel their information and use it as there self.