Identity Theft FAQ

Are there any laws that specifically prohibit identity theft?

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Answer:

Are there any laws that specifically prohibit identity theft?

Yes. In 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (18 U.S.C. § 1028). The Act makes the use of another person's identification with the intent to commit any unlawful activity a federal felony. Federal agencies -- including the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service -- investigate suspected violations of the Act. The U.S. Department of Justice handles prosecutions. Federal law enforcement agencies usually do not investigate individual cases unless the dollar amount is high or the victim is one of many people victimized by the same perpetrator or fraud ring.

More Information About Identity Theft

The federal government maintains a central website devoted to identity theft: www.ftc.gov/idtheft. This site lists all federal and state laws relating to identity theft, discusses pending cases, and alerts consumers about identity scams. It also contains useful links for more information.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse maintains an excellent website with reports on a variety of privacy related issues, including identity theft, at www.privacyrights.org.

You can also access a wealth of information about identity theft at www.identitytheft.org.

The State of California's Office of Privacy Protection (www.privacy.ca.gov) has California-specific information.

To learn more about how to limit the vulnerability of your personal information in any risky situation, read Stopping Identity Theft: 10 Easy Steps to Security, by Scott Mitic (Nolo).

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