Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act

A new law has recently been passed in the United States which increases the federal prosecution of identity theft crimes and allows for the restitution of victims of identity theft. This bill was originally sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, a democrat from the state of Vermont and was introduced into Congress on October 16, 2007. It became a law in October 2008.

What The New Law Encompasses

Under the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act, it is now easier for prosecutors to go after cyber thieves responsible for identity theft. The law also allows for compensation for victims of identity theft-both for the time and trouble the identity theft caused them and for the actual amount of money lost due to the identity theft. Previous laws regulating this crime required prosecutors to show that the identity theft caused at least $5,000 in damages. The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act eliminates this requirement.

It's A Felony

This new law also now makes it a felony to damage ten or more protected computers used by the federal government or a financial institution and allows the federal court to prosecute cybercriminals when both they and their victims live in the same state. Previous laws only allowed federal courts jurisdiction if the thief used an interstate communication to access the victims' computers.


The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act requires that victims receive compensation for identity theft not only for money lost due to the crime, but also for the time and trouble caused by the identity theft. Many identity theft victims spend thousands of dollars and many months, or even years, dealing with credit bureaus and banks due to debts causes by fraudulent accounts opened by the identity thieves using the victims' names. The new law states that these victims should be paid an allotted sum of money "equal to the value of time reasonably spent by the victim in an attempt to remediate the intended or actual harm incurred by the victim from the offense." However, at this time, the law does not incorporate lost opportunities caused by identity theft such as the denial of student loans, mortgage, etc..


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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.