Federal ID Theft Law
en Español
Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act makes it a federal crime when someone "knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law."

Under the Act, a name or SSN is considered a "means of identification." So is a credit card number, cellular telephone electronic serial number or any other piece of information that may be used alone or in conjunction with other information to identify a specific individual.

Violations of the Act are investigated by federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and SSA's Office of the Inspector General. Federal identity theft cases are prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

In most instances, a conviction for identity theft carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, a fine and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the crime. Pursuant to the Act, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has developed federal sentencing guidelines to provide appropriate penalties for those persons convicted of identity theft.

Schemes to commit identity theft or fraud also may involve violations of other statutes, such as credit card fraud, computer fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, financial institution fraud, or Social Security fraud. Each of these federal offenses is a felony and carries substantial penalties - in some cases, as high as 30 years in prison as well as fines and criminal forfeiture.

USC 1028 - Identity Theft
USC 1029 - Access Device Fraud
USC 1344 - Bank Fraud
USC 1542 - Passports and Visas
USC 513 - Counterfeit and Forged Checks
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692-1692o
Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act
Fair Credit Reporting Act (as amended July 21, 2010)
Federal Trade Commission Links to Federal Credit and Criminal Law

Examples of Recent Cases

November 18, 2014
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida
Seventeen Charged Today in Connection with Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving Student Financial Services Accounts

July 09, 2014
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida
Florida Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud Using Inmates’ Identities

August 13, 2014
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida
Five More Individuals Charged in Cyber Crime/Bank Fraud Scheme

March 04, 2014
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida
Three Sentenced in Orange County Health Department Identity Theft Scheme