What Is Aggravated Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself in 2023

Identity theft is a growing problem in the digital age, and one of the most serious forms of this crime is aggravated identity theft. This type of identity theft involves the use of stolen personal information to commit a federal crime, such as fraud, terrorism, or drug trafficking.

Aggravated identity theft is considered a two-for-one offense, with both the identity theft and the underlying criminal act being prosecuted.

In this article, we will delve deeper into What Is Aggravated Identity Theft, how it differs from other forms of identity theft, and what you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of this serious crime.

What is Aggravated Identity Theft? | Aggravated Identity Theft Meaning

What Is Aggravated Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself
What Is Aggravated Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself

Aggravated identity theft is a specific type of identity theft that involves the use of stolen personal information to commit a federal crime. This crime is considered “aggravated” because it involves the use of stolen identity information to commit another crime, such as fraud, terrorism, or drug trafficking.

In essence, it is a two-for-one offense, with both the identity theft and the underlying criminal act being prosecuted.

Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, aggravated identity theft is a federal crime punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison, which is in addition to any sentence imposed for the underlying crime.

This means that a person convicted of aggravated identity theft could face a much longer prison sentence than if they were convicted of just the underlying crime.

Examples of aggravated identity theft include using someone else’s Social Security number to file a false tax return, using someone else’s name and personal information to open a credit account or take out a loan, and using someone else’s identity to commit healthcare fraud or other federal crimes.

Examples of Aggravated Identity Theft

There are many ways that identity thieves can use stolen personal information to commit federal crimes. Some common examples of aggravated identity theft include:

  • Using someone else’s Social Security number to file a false tax return or obtain government benefits
  • Using someone else’s name and personal information to open a credit account or take out a loan
  • Using someone else’s identity to commit healthcare fraud, such as filing false insurance claims or obtaining prescription drugs illegally
  • Using someone else’s identity to commit crimes such as money laundering, drug trafficking, or terrorism.

How to Protect Yourself from Aggravated Identity Theft

Identity Theft How To Protect Yourself
What Is Aggravated Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself in 2023 8
  • Protecting yourself from identity theft is an ongoing process, but there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of aggravated identity theft:
  • Keep your personal information secure. Be careful about sharing personal information online, and use strong passwords and security software to protect your devices.
  • Monitor your credit reports regularly. Check your credit reports at least once a year to look for any suspicious activity or errors.
  • Be aware of phishing scams. Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls asking for personal information or money. Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown senders.
  • Report any suspicious activity. If you suspect that your personal information has been compromised, report it to the relevant authorities, such as your bank or credit card company, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

Aggravated Identity Theft vs Identity Theft

Identity theft and aggravated identity theft are both types of crimes that involve the use of someone else’s personal information without their permission, but they have some key differences.

Aggravated Identity TheftIdentity Theft
Aggravated identity theft, on the other hand, is a more serious offense that involves using stolen personal information to commit a federal crime.
In this case, the perpetrator uses the stolen identity information to commit an underlying crime, such as fraud, terrorism, or drug trafficking, which is considered an aggravating factor.
The perpetrator can be charged with both identity theft and the underlying federal offense, which can result in a longer prison sentence if convicted.  
Identity theft is the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information, such as their name, date of birth, Social Security number, or financial account information, to commit fraud or other crimes.
The crime can include opening a credit account, making unauthorized purchases, or taking out a loan in the victim’s name.
Identity theft is a serious crime that can cause financial damage and harm to a victim’s credit and reputation.
Identity theft is the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information, such as their name, date of birth, Social Security number, or financial account information, to commit fraud or other crimes.
The crime can include opening a credit account, making unauthorized purchases, or taking out a loan in the victim’s name. Identity theft is a serious crime that can cause financial damage and harm to a victim’s credit and reputation.    
Aggravated Identity Theft vs Identity Theft

In summary, while both identity theft and aggravated identity theft involve the unauthorized use of someone else’s personal information, aggravated identity theft is a more severe offense that involves using stolen information to commit a federal crime.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, aggravated identity theft is a serious crime that can have severe legal and financial consequences for victims. This two-for-one offense involves using stolen personal information to commit a federal crime, which can result in a longer prison sentence if convicted.

It’s important to take steps to protect your personal information and be vigilant for signs of identity theft, such as monitoring your credit reports regularly, being aware of phishing scams, and reporting any suspicious activity.

By being proactive and taking the necessary precautions, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of aggravated identity theft and keep your personal information safe and secure.

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