Identity Theft – Part 3

Identity theft lawsOver the past two months I have given an overview and discussed different types of identity thefts how they occur, and what you can do to avoid being a victim.  This last installment will cover identity theft laws, penalties, and punishments.

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 crime should be significant.

Identity theft is punishable at two levels:

Federal law relating to identity theft penalties was put into action in 2004, and it mandates federal prison time for anyone convicted of the crime.  It also increases the maximum jail sentence and penalties for phishing schemes, among other charges.  Anything involving tax fraud will likely be handled at the federal level.

State laws differ from each other in how they handle an identity theft conviction, but at the very least, the criminal will be given a misdemeanor and forced to repay any losses suffered by the victim, whether financial or compensation of time, labor, etc.  As the severity of the crime increases so too does the state identity theft penalties that can lead to incarceration.

Penalties for identity theft

Incarceration – A conviction can result in a significant sentence.  In general, a conviction for a misdemeanor offense can lead to up to a year of imprisonment, while felony sentences can result in several years of imprisonment.

Fines – It’s common for courts to order convicted person to pay a fine.  Misdemeanor fines can be in excess of one thousand dollars, while felony fines can easily exceed five thousand dollars.

Restitution – Restitution is designed to compensate the victim for his or her loss, while fines are designed to penalize the perpetrator.  Restitution awards vary, depending on the circumstances of each case.

Probation – Probation often given to  first-time offenders of identity theft crimes that do not result in significant harm.  It is possible that a court might impose a probation sentence in addition to, or separate from penalties.  Probation usually lasts at least a year.  People on probation are obligated to comply with specific court imposed restrictions, such as reporting to a probation officer, paying all restitution and fines, and not committing other crimes.


In closing out this series, it is vital that you understand how identity theft is being committed and what the ramifications are for those who commit these crimes.  Also, with technology changing rapidly, criminals are finding new ways to capture your information and make you a victim.   It is important to keep up on any changes made so you can stay protected.

I hope that you found this information helpful.  Please feel free to forward it to others.  If you would like to learn more about this topic or would like to request a topic, please contact me. If you missed any past newsletters or would like a printed copy, please visit my website at.


Until next time…Happy Computing!!!


About Michael DeFlorio
I have worked is various positions as a system administrator, support technician, as a help desk support, and as an IT consultant in a corporate environment. I currently run a small business where I provide computer services such as hardware configuration, installation, for residential and for medium and small businesses. You can contact me by email or visit my website at

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