No: 108-20
Date: June 29, 2004

Final Passage of H.R. 1731, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act

On Wednesday, June 23, 2004, the House passed by voice vote, H.R. 1731, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act. On Friday, June 25, 2004, the Senate passed H.R. 1731 by unanimous consent (without amendment) and cleared the bill for the President's signature. H.R. 1731 would establish penalties for aggravated identify theft, i.e., identity theft in connection with the commission of a felony, and includes the following provisions of interest to SSA that would:

  • Prescribe a sentence of two years’ imprisonment for knowingly transferring, possessing, or using, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person during and in relation to specified felony convictions, including: (1) violations of 18 U.S.C. 641 (relating to theft of public money, property, or rewards);
    (2) violations of sections 208, 811, and 1632 of the Social Security Act, relating to the Social Security, Supplemental Veterans’ Benefits, and SSI programs; and, (3) violations of section 1107(b) of the Social Security Act, relating to misrepresentation.
  • With regard to a conviction under 18 U.S.C. 641, would provide for aggregating the amounts from all counts for which a defendant is convicted in a single case. Present law provides for a maximum prison term of one year when the value of the subject property does not exceed $1,000. Since some courts do not combine the value of the amounts from all counts in imposing sentence, the proposed change would facilitate the imposition of longer prison sentences by those courts.
  • Prohibit a court from: (1) placing any person convicted of such a violation on probation; (2) reducing any sentence for the related felony to take into account the sentence imposed for such a violation; or (3) providing for concurrent terms of imprisonment for a violation of this Act and any other violation, except, in the court’s discretion, an additional violation of this section.
  • Expand the existing identity theft prohibition to: (1) cover possession of a means of identification of another with intent to commit specified unlawful activity; (2) increase penalties for violations; and (3) include acts of domestic terrorism within the scope of a prohibition against facilitating an act of international terrorism.