Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act

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What is the Purpose of the ITPEA?

Recently there has been a surge in "phishing" scams.  This law is designed to deter indiiduals from engaging in phishing scams and other identity theft crimes by increasing the penalty for those crimes when the scammer plans to use the information to commit another crime.

Many times identity theft cases end up being transferred to different courts along the way because prosecutors do not want to spend the time when the penalties are so small.  Common punishments for people convicted of committing identity-theft crimes are probation, restitution, and home confinement.  Lawmakers hope that stiffening penalties for such crimes will not only work as a deterrent, but will also serve to motivate prosecutors to go after those criminals.

How Does the ITPEA Work?

The ITEPEA stiffens penalties for anyone convicted of committing identity theft by stating that if an individual obtains another;s personal identity information (bank account or credit card numbers, etc.) with the intent to use that information to commit another crime this will lengthen their sentence by two years with no possibility of probation.  If the convicted person used the stolen information to perpetrate an act of terrorism-e.g. kidnapping government officials, arson, airport violence-the convicted individual will add an extra five years onto their prison sentence.

The question of the effectiveness of the law will only be answered with time.  However, keep in mind that many cases of the "phishing" scams originate from places outside of the U.S., so the legal system in this country does not even automatically have jurisdiction over the perpetrator.

In the end the best solution for preventing "phishing" scams lies with you.  Do not give away confidential information in emails and keep in mind that any bank or other institution you are a customer of or associated with in any other way will never ask for your private information through an email.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Accused of a Executing a "Phishing" Scam?

You should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney.  Your attorney can advise you of your rights and options, and help you navigate the complex legal criminal legal system.

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Last Modified: 02-03-2014 01:25 PM PST

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