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What Is the Punishment for Identity Fraud?

Updated July 19, 2017

In July 2004, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act was passed. The law increased time in prison to two more years for someone who is convicted of aggravated identity theft.

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The legislation set forth different prison terms and mandatory penalties for someone who used identity fraud to commit a crime, such as mail fraud, where the individual would face a sentence for mail fraud and another sentence for aggravated theft identity.


The act also expanded the maximum penalty for identity theft under federal law from three to five years. And people convicted of identity theft relating to terrorism will see an additional sentence of five years in prison. An example of this could be someone using a stolen identity to supply fake passports or identification.

Passport and Visa fraud

For passport and visa fraud, which are federal felonies, each could result in a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Federal law increases the sentence to a maximum of 15 years if the crime has something to do with narcotics trafficking and a maximum sentence of 25 years if the crime is associated with acts of international or domestic terrorism.

State Punishment

In addition to federal punishment, state courts reserve the right to give someone convicted of identity fraud financial punishment and other penalties.

Department of Justice Funding

The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act also authorised £1.3 million to be given to the U.S. Department of Justice every year from 2005 to 2009 so the department could investigate and prosecute cases related to identity fraud.


The government first acknowledged identity theft as a federal crime with the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act that was passed by Congress in October 1998.

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About the Author

Sara Johnson works as an account associate with 43PR, a consumer tech PR firm. She handles press releases, industry and market research, social media and reviews. Sara began her career in 2007 as a journalist with Suburban News Publications of Columbus, Ohio, writing for three of the company's 22 weekly newspapers. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Western Michigan University.

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