Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

Stolen Photos & Identity TheftIdentity Theft Identity theft is when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In both the U.K. and the United States it is the theft of personally identifiable information. Identity theft deliberately uses someone else's identity as a method to gain financial advantages or obtain credit and other benefits, and perhaps to cause other person's loss. The person whose identity has been stolen may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are falsely held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Personally identifiable information generally includes a person's name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account or credit card numbers, PINs, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or any other information that can be used to access a person's financial resources.

According to estimates from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 17 million people experienced at least one incident of identity theft in 2012 (last year data available), causing financial losses totaling almost $25 billion. In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov) reported that identity theft complaints are the most common consumer complaint, affecting Americans of all ages and backgrounds.

Unfortunately, all too often people post their most secret information on social media. From Date of birth, to parents, to social security numbers, people do not think through how much is accessible to scammers and identity thieves.

To address the growing threat of identity theft, in 2008, the United States Congress passed the Identity Theft Enforcement and RestitutionRestitution Restitution is where a court orders the defendant to give up his gains to the claimant (victim). It should be contrasted with Compensation, the law of loss-based recovery, in which a court orders the defendant to pay the claimant for their loss. Act (ITHERA), a federal law that seeks to strengthen efforts to prosecute identity theft while also improving restitution available to victims.

The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act

What Does The Act Do?

Identity theft was not a federal crime until Congress passed the Identity Theft Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998. However, under that law, certain federal charges could only be brought where the offense involved interstate or foreign communications and, in cases of computer fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim., where the victim suffered at least $5,000 in damages.

When it was passed in 2008, the Identity Theft Assumption and Deterrence Act removed some of these barriers and further promoted prosecutions of identity theft by:

  • Allowing prosecution of cases that do not involve interstate or foreign communications
  • Removing the requirement to show $5,000 in damages
  • Making it a felony to damage, in a one year period, 10 or more computers used by the federal government or financial institutions
  • Expanding the definition of cyber-extortion
  • Prohibiting conspiracies to commit computer fraud
  • Expanding interstate and foreign jurisdiction for prosecution of computer fraud offenses
  • Imposing criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. and civil forfeitures of property used to commit computer fraud offenses
  • In addition, the Act sought to more fully compensate victims of identity theft by authorizing courts to issue restitution orders that require payments to victims not just for the actual harm caused, but also for the time they spent fixing the damage caused by the theft of their identities.

What Can I Do If My Identity Has Been Stolen?

Along with protecting all of your financial assets, it is important to immediately report any identity theft to the proper authorities. This can help to protect you from further harm and will also enable the authorities to track down the perpetrators before they can harm anyone else.

To report identity theft, contact your local police department or sheriff’s office. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can also file a report with your local FBI Office, which investigates violations of federal identity theft laws.

Keep in mind that, with the increased restitution available to victims under the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act, you may be able to recover not just for your actual losses, but for the time spent in trying to fix all of the damage done. That being said, it is important to keep track of all of your efforts and time spent remedying the harm caused by the theft of your identity.

Additional Resources

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you may also want to speak with a consumer protection attorney in your area to ensure that your rights are protected and to determine what additional remedies may be available to you under federal or state law.

Stolen Identity? What to Do Next

Identity theft victims often don’t know their personal information has been compromised until the damage already has been done. Responding early to a stolen identity is key but it’s never too late to take action if you have been a victim of identity theft, including the use of your photos for impersonationImpersonation An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. There are many reasons for impersonating someone, such as: part of a criminal act such as identity theft, online impersonation scam, or other fraud. This is usually where the criminal is trying to assume the identity of another, in order to commit f