According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is the most common complaint from consumers in all fifty states.1 Victims of identity theft may incur damaged credit records, unauthorized charges on credit cards, and unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts. Oftentimes, victims must change their addresses, telephone numbers, and even their Social Security numbers. This report provides an overview of the federal laws that could assist victims of identity theft with purging inaccurate information from their credit records and removing unauthorized charges from credit accounts, as well as federal laws that impose criminal penalties on those who assume another person's identity through the use of fraudulent identification documents. Similar state laws and recent legislative proposals aimed at preventing identity theft and providing additional remedies will also be discussed. To date, several bills (S. 22, S. 153, S. 223, S. 228, H.R. 220, H.R. 637, H.R. 818, and H.R. 858) related to identity theft have been introduced in the 108th Congress. This report will be updated as events warrant.
CRS Report for Congress, RL31919