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Identity Theft Laws

How Identity Theft Laws Protect You In The United States

Do you have nightmares about identity theft? Do you think it’s only something that happens to other people? Unfortunately, millions of Americans have experienced this nightmare firsthand. In the United States today, identity theft is a real and serious threat. Theft laws regarding the protection of personal information and identity are constantly changing. Laws also vary from state to state and country to country, making things even more complicated for those who need to know what their rights are. There’s no universally agreed-upon definition of identity theft. However, in general terms, identity theft refers to someone using your personal information without your knowledge or permission for their financial gain at your expense. Identity thieves generally take one of two primary routes to begin stealing your identity.

It is illegal to misuse someone else's bank account, social security number, or any other information that can be used to identify them. A criminal may acquire such data (such as Social Security numbers, credit histories, and banking PINs) by:

  • Inappropriate access by the offender to information held by the government and the financial sector
  • It's a common occurrence for mail, wallets, purses, identification, and credit and debit cards to be lost or stolen

American citizens are increasingly susceptible to identity theft, which takes up a lot of their time and resources. The Internet is most often used by fraudsters to obtain sensitive information, but others have been known to use trash cans, database hacks, and scams as well.


1. The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act


Since 1998, identity theft has risen significantly, and Congress has made it a federal crime because of its harmful effects. The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act prohibits knowingly transferring or using another person's identity document without lawful authority to commit a criminal offense, aiding or abetting that person in committing a crime, whether it is a federal law or a state or local law violation.


2. The Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004


According to the Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004, courts now have the option of imposing additional sentences of two years for general offenses and five years for offenses related to terrorism for crimes that constitute "aggravated" identity theft.


3. The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act


In 2008, Congress increased victim restitution and expanded prosecutions for identity theft through the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act.


4. Do Law Enforcement Agencies Prosecute Identity Theft?


In the investigation and prosecution of identity theft crimes, several government agencies are involved, including:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Secret Service
  • Postal Inspection Service
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Resources are available from the FTC, specifically to law enforcement, consumers, and businesses. Although federal agencies are increasingly involved in prosecuting these crimes, state and local agencies prosecute most of them according to state laws. Theft by deception, fraud, and misuse of identification are all punishable by a number of charges.


5. Identity theft victims who are unaware


As opposed to victims of burglary or robbery, victims of identity theft often have no idea what happened. People who are victims of identity theft first realize they have been scammed when strange charges appear on their credit cards or when they apply for a loan. Even though preventing security breaches is the best policy, victims may still have their personal information compromised at banks or businesses they do business with. In addition to consumers who are well-prepared, identity theft can also occur to those who are unprepared.

Identity thieves took advantage of the legitimate business of a Harrisburg, PA, car dealership to obtain the personal information of customers. Nearly $700,000 in fraudulent loans were obtained with information gathered from individuals looking for car loans.


6. What Is The Most Common Way that People Experience Identity Theft?


The most common way that people experience identity theft is by having their personal information stolen. This can occur when a hacker breaks into a business database and steals your name, address, credit card information, and other sensitive details. It can also occur when an employee steals and sells your personal information on the black market. Protecting your personal information is one of the best ways to prevent identity theft. 


7. What Is The Second Most Common Way that People Experience Identity Theft?


The second most common way that people experience identity theft is by having their existing accounts hacked. This is especially common with online accounts like email, social media, and banking. Some experts say the best way to prevent this type of identity theft is to avoid internet accounts altogether. But that’s not realistic for most people. If you decide to keep some accounts, you can reduce your risk by using two-factor authentication whenever possible. This means using a unique code or token in addition to your login and password to verify your identity. Many popular websites, like Gmail, Facebook, and PayPal, offer some form of two-factor authentication. But many others don’t. When choosing online accounts, try to pick ones that provide two-factor authentication and avoid those that don’t.


8. How Can You Protect Yourself From Identity Theft?


The best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to be vigilant about your personal information. Be careful about what you share online and offline, and make sure your personal information is accurate. Here are some other tips for protecting yourself: 

  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Avoid storing your passwords in a document on your computer. Instead, use a password manager. 
  • Stay diligent about monitoring your credit reports. You can do this for free once a year at
  • Freeze your credit. You can freeze your credit report with all three credit bureaus for free at 
  • Avoid giving out your Social Security number whenever possible. Some businesses ask for your SSN even when they don’t need it to open an account. 


9. What Are Your Rights If You Become A Victim Of Identity Theft?


If you’re a victim of identity theft, you’re not alone. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 10 million people in the United States experience some form of identity theft every year. The good news is that the law is on your side. If you’re a victim of identity theft, you have the right to take action. You can file a complaint with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-438-4338. Contact the three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — to freeze your credit. You can also file a complaint with your state attorney general’s office or the district attorney’s office in your county. You may be eligible to receive financial assistance and have your identity restored. You may also be able to recover financial damages, including lost wages and medical bills. In some cases, your state may allow you to sue the person responsible for the identity theft.

As fraudsters use a variety of techniques to steal identity information from victims, such as watching closely when they enter their credit card or bank account details, they often use a number of different methods to steal their identity. Throughout the world, criminals have the capability of intercepting electronic messages to extract personal information or sending email spam (unsolicited emails) asking for personal information. IT experts must understand how criminals circumvent security measures, such as firewalls, routers, or smart devices, to effectively improve security. A professional in Information Technology should adhere to all applicable laws in order to avoid being sanctioned by the government. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may prosecute an employer who does not protect consumer information.




Identity theft is a real and serious threat. Protecting your personal information and knowing your rights if you become a victim is critical. The best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to be vigilant about your personal information. Be careful about what you share online and offline, and make sure your personal information is accurate. If you do become a victim, the law is on your side. You can take action to protect yourself and recover damages. Two-factor authentication should be implemented for sensitive communications via a virtual private network (VPN). The most crucial aspect of avoiding unnecessary complications is understanding and complying with state, federal, and international identity theft laws. In the end, the best way to protect yourself is to be proactive

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