The Identity Theft & Assumption Deterrence Act
by Deborah L. Alexander
Congress enacted the Identity Theft & Assumption Deterrence Act in October of 1998. The act was necessary because prior to its enactment, laws only addressed the fraudulent creation, use or transfer of identification documents. The new act addressed the theft or criminal use of personal identification information.
Means of Identification
The act defines "means of identification" to include names, birth certificates, Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, driver's license numbers and any other piece of information that may be used alone or in conjunction with other information to identify a specific individual.
Use of Identification
Using another person's identification as defined above, without their consent, is a violation of federal law. Previously, a violation only occurred if a document was created from the identification information.
Document Making Implement
To further strengthen the existing law, the new act modified the definition of "document making implement" to include computers and software, including technology that may come about in the future.
Federal Trade Commission Requirements
The Act requires the FTC to have a procedure to log and acknowledge receipt of complaints of identity theft and to provide education to individuals. The FTC must also refer people to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Financial institutions should report attempts to obtain a customer's identity information to their federal regulator and file a Suspicious Activity Report.