Working together: identity theft laws and the people

You might have felt pity when you heard the accounts of identity theft victims. If you were in the same situation one in your life, you would know how it feels like being in their shoes. That is why identity theft laws have been made and passed to stop this ongoing threat to people, companies and the whole country for that matter.

The awareness on identity theft among consumers has reached its peak in the past years. This is principally due to the media coverage it is getting. Because of this, consumers are becoming more wary when disclosing personal information and having it given out without their consent, especially on the Internet.

These outcries by members of the public have resulted in some legislative attention brought to the issue, both on the federal level and in the states.

The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (18 USC 1028) was signed in 1998. This law made identity theft a federal felony. That is, when someone deliberately uses the identification of another person with the purpose of committin any unlawful activity under federal and state law.

For those who have violated this law, they will be put under close investigation by federal agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service, the Social Security Administration, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Such crimes are prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

This law also allows for reimbursement for victims. It established an identity theft clearinghouse within the Federal Trade Commission.

In the following years, 40 states have criminalized identity theft. Most of them have also made it a felony.
In 2000, Senate Bill 2328 was signed by Senators Feinstein, Kyl, and Grassley. This bill is called the "Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2000." This law emphasizes more on the prevention that should be taken or where they should belong.

The latest addition to these laws is the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act (ITPEA) signed by President George Bush.

What are the provisions of this identity theft law?

The theft found to have made done a felony through the identity theft is given a mandatory two-year prison sentence.

If the identity theft is directly related to any terrorist activity, the penalty is an additional five-year prison sentence.
This law also orders the U.S. Sentencing Commission to strengthen the penalties to be given if the theft is found to be in the course of employment when the act is committed.

Lastly, it gives the more lax judges to give out soft punishments like probation and community for the offenders.
A lot of people are more than happy that this crime has been criminalized by the laws created. But it can be noted that in order to put a hold on identity theft, drastic changes have to made in the credit industry.

But it is also important that these laws address what the identity theft victims have gone through. There should be a way for them to know that they have a wrongful criminal record.

Some of the bills that have been passed include a provision making it possible for individuals to get hold of the content of information about them that is compiled by an information broker, employment background check service, or individual reference service.

If wrongful information is reported in any background check for employment or other purposes, it is vital that the persons on these investigations know the precise information that has been made and the source from which those information came from.

For those persons who have wrongful criminal records, they must be able to clear their records through an expedited process involving the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, the court system where the warrant was issued, and the official criminal Presently, there is no such procedure available for victims of criminal records identity theft.

Identity theft laws should not be the only answer to this ongoing problem. It is also vital that credit card companies and reporting industries should make an effort to assist consumers in stopping fraud altogether. They should also be the ones that should help victims recover from identity theft.

No matter how many identity theft laws are created and passed, this crime will still continue if additional efforts are not added. It is important that the people and the government should work together to stop identity thieves in their tracks.

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