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Average Identity Theft Penalties

Identity Theft

With fraud on the rise in the United States, identity theft penalties are growing tougher… and some say it’s about time. Millions of people per year suffer from identity theft, and the crime shows no signs of slowing or stopping. As the world comes to rely more heavily on technology, identity thieves are finding new ways around the safety systems in place, and more and more people are prone to falling victim.

Understanding Identity Theft Penalties

Identity theft can be devastating because not only can it result in financial loss, but it can also be a nightmare to untangle afterwards. Because the victim loses so much time, labor, and security to an identity theft, it only makes sense that the penalties for the criminal should be tougher.

Federal Vs. State Punishments

There are two levels of punishment for identity theft: the state level and the federal level. The federal law relating to identity theft penalties was signed into action by President Bush in 2004, and it mandates federal prison time for anyone convicted of the crime. It also increases the maximum jail sentence from three years to five years, and increases penalties for phishing schemes, among other changes.

Any sensible criminal will consider these types of federal identity theft penalties a huge deterrent, but if that’s not enough, punishment can take place at the state level, too, depending on the nature and severity of the crime. Each state differs in how they handle an identity theft conviction, but at the very least, the criminal will be given a misdemeanor and forced to pay back any loss suffered by the victim, whether financial or in compensation of time, labor, etc. As the severity of the crime increases, so too do the state identity theft penalties, ranging from prison terms up to ten years to fines numbering in the thousands of dollars.

Whether an identity theft is handled at the state or federal level will depend on the nature of the theft that took place; anything involving tax fraud, for example, will likely be handled at a federal level, while smaller crimes such as check fraud or a stolen credit card may be handled by the jurisdiction of the state where the crime took place. Victims of identity theft should be aware of the laws in their area so that they know what to expect when their case moves towards conviction; it is helpful to know what statutes are being used to measure the crime when anticipating what the outcome might be for you as the victim.

Identity theft is one of the most serious, invasive crimes there is, and the disruption and insecurity it can create in someone’s life makes it difficult to wholly compensate the victims. Still it’s helpful to know that identity theft penalties are growing more severe – not just for the sake of justice after the crime takes place, but also ideally as a deterrent before it does.

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