Identity theft is a criminal offense and it happens every day to
unsuspecting people all over the world. According to the United
States Department of Justice, identity theft refers to a crime in
which someone “wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal
data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for
economic gain.” vi
The Department of Justice cites one situation in which someone was
not only a victim of credit card fraud, but the criminal (who was
also a convicted felon), incurred more than $100,000 of credit card
debt, obtained a federal home loan, bought homes, motorcycles ad
handguns in the victim’s name. Not only that, but the victim and his
family were taunted by this person repeatedly. The offender was
eventually caught and served a minimum jail sentence.
Luckily, it was cases like this that prompted Congress to make
identity theft a federal offense in 1998. In the fall of 1998,
Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act,
"knowingly transfer[ring] or us[ing],
without lawful authority, a means of identification of another
person with the intent to commit or to aid or abet, any unlawful
activity that constitute a violation of Federal law, or that
constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law."
(18 U.S.C. & 1028(a)(7)
In most circumstances, these convictions carry a maximum term of
15 years imprisonment, a fine and criminal forfeiture of any
personal property used or intended to be used to commit the offense.
Federal prosecutors work in conjunction with other federal agencies
such as the FBI, Secret Service and US Postal Inspection Service.
The federal government also passed legislation in 1974 that
created FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act). Under FERPA,
schools must generally afford students who are 18 years or over, or
attending a postsecondary institution:
- access to their education records
- an opportunity to seek to have the records amended
- some control over the disclosure of information from the
For more information about FERPA and how the University of South
Carolina adheres to
Keep in mind that:
these policies, please visit
||It is a violation of South Carolina law to use public
information for commercial solicitation.
|Although institutions can no longer be sued under FERPA, you
could be the target of civil action for breach of
confidentiality or invasion of privacy.
|Victims of identity theft crimes are now taking legal action
against the institutions from which the identity thief obtains
the victims’ information.
||When in doubt, contact the appropriate data custodian or