The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act was promulgated in 1998 to establish identity theft as a federal crime. Under this law, a person who commits identity theft faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or a fine. The maximum term of imprisonment increases under some circumstances, such as when identity theft occurs in connection with drug trafficking or as a means to facilitate international terrorism. The statute also requires the FTC to receive complaints from individuals who have been victims of identity theft (discussed above).
Prior to the enactment of this statute, federal law only applied to the theft of identification documents and not identifying information. The 1998 law extends its application to the theft of “means of identification,” which may include any of the following:
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Official state or government issued driver’s license or identification number
- Alien registration number
- Government passport number
- Employer or taxpayer identification number
- Unique biometric data, including a fingerprint, a voice print, a retina or iris image, or another unique physical representation
- A unique electronic identification number, address, or routing code
- Telecommunication identifying information or access device.