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When Is Identity Theft a Federal Crime?

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in Florida and all of the United States. According to FindLaw, identity theft involves the misappropriation and use of another person’s identity or personal data for the thief’s personal gain. Identity theft often involves the theft of a person’s social security number, birth date, and other confidential information. In addition to causing financial devastation, identity theft can rob a person of his or her peace of mind and time. If you are guilty of identity theft in Florida, you may wonder, when does it become a federal crime?

Because of the prevalence of identity theft and the devastating nature of its consequences, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998. This act officially made identity theft a federal crime, regardless of state laws covering the offense. For identity theft to be a federal crime, however, the thief must knowingly use or transfer another person’s identifying information without express permission to do so, and with the explicit purpose of aiding or abetting any unlawful activity.

Less than a decade later, Congress introduced the Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004. This act, as its name implies, increased the penalties for aggravated identity theft. If the courts find a person guilty of aggravated identity theft, the judge must impose an additional two years for general offenses, and five years for those related to terrorism.

Several agencies assume the responsibility of investigating identity theft offenses. These include the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Postal Inspection Service, and Secret Service.

You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.

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