The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act

Find out what The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act is and what it offers as definitions of and penalties for identity theft.

There’s a new identity theft bill that has been passed in both the House and Senate that has enough teeth to bite down on the perpetrators of identity theft crimes. The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act offers stricter definitions for identity and information on identity theft crimes as well as adding stiffer penalties for criminals.
The bill was originally written by Senator Patrick Leahy in 2007. The bill failed to be passed by the House of Representatives. In a strategic move, Leahy then attached the proposal to another bill dictating the protection of former US Vice Presidents.
Having now passed both the House and Senate, the bill will be sent to the President for final approval and signing into law.
Key Points of the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act
* Identity theft victims will be able to seek restitution for the loss of time and money spent restoring credit.
* It will now be felony to install spyware or malware on more than ten computers and federal agents to pursue identity theft cases within a single state. Previously, federal jurisdiction was limited to cases in which the victim and criminal were located in separate states.
* Eliminates the requirement that damage to a victim’s computer exceed $5,000 before charges can be brought for unauthorized access to a computer.
* Makes it a felony to employ spyware or keyloggers to damage ten or more computers regardless of the aggregate amount of damage caused.
* Makes it a crime, punishable by fine and up to five years on prison, to threaten to steal or release information from a computer. Current law only permits the prosecution of those who seek to extort companies or government agencies by explicitly threatening to shut down or damage a computer.
“The anti-cyber crime provisions in this bill are long overdue,” said the Senator Leahy.
“The key anti-cyber crime provisions that are included in this legislation will close existing gaps in our criminal law to keep up with the cunning and ingenuity of today’s identity thieves.”
“To keep up with” identity thieves? That’s a daunting task considering the overwhelming number and devastating consequences of identity theft crimes.
Current Identity Theft Statistics
* There are over 10 million identity theft victims in the US.
* An identity is stolen every 4 seconds in the US.
* The average cost to restore a stolen identity and credit is $8,000.
* Identity theft victims spend an average of 600 hours recovering from the crime.
The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act is another story of good new and bad news. The good news is that more identity theft crimes will be prosecuted. The bad news is that this legislation arrives as, and due to identity theft becoming the fastest growing crime. For the most part, the law addresses “after the fact” issues. While more prosecutions and the ability for victims to seek restitution are great outcomes, the reality for citizens is that protection and prevention remain the best ways to go. To Senator Leahy and the many supporters of The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act, we say “thank you.” To identity thieves, we still say “no thank you.” Most of us would rather not have to be reimbursed for $8,000 in losses or 60