Identity theft and identity fraud are terms
used to refer to all types of
crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and
uses another person's personal
data in some way that involves fraud or
deception, typically for economic gain.
The Department of Justice prosecutes cases of
identity theft and fraud under
a variety of federal statutes. In the fall of
1998, for example, Congress
passed the Identity Theft and Assumption
Deterrence Act . This
legislation created a new offense of identity
theft, which prohibits knowingly
transfer[ring] or us[ing], 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.
18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7). This offense, in most
circumstances, carries a maximum
term of 15 years' imprisonment, a fine, and
criminal forfeiture of any personal
property used or intended to be used to commit
Schemes to commit identity theft or fraud may
also involve violations of other
statutes such as identification fraud (18 U.S.C.
§ 1028), credit card fraud (18
U.S.C. § 1029), computer fraud (18 U.S.C. §
1030), mail fraud (18 U.S.C. §
1341), wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), or
financial institution fraud (18 U.S.C.
§ 1344). Each of these federal offenses are
felonies that carry substantial
penalties in some cases, as high as 30 years'
imprisonment, fines, and