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Statement on Signing the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998

October 30, 1998

Today I signed into law H.R. 4151, the "Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998." This legislation will make identity theft a Federal crime, with penalties generally of up to 3 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Specifically, the legislation would penalize the theft of personal information with the intent to commit an unlawful act, such as obtaining fraudulent loans or credit cards, drug trafficking, or other illegal purposes. It would also direct the Federal Trade Commission to help victims deal with the consequences of this crime.

Tens of thousands of Americans have been victims of identity theft. Impostors often run up huge debts, file for bankruptcy, and commit serious crimes. It can take years for victims of identity theft to restore their credit ratings and their reputations. This legislation will enable the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies to combat this type of crime, which can financially devastate its victims.

I want to thank the Vice President for his leadership on this and other privacy issues. As we enter the Information Age, it is critical that our newest technologies support our oldest values.


The White House, October 30, 1998.

NOTE: H.R. 4151, approved October 30, was assigned Public Law No. 105-318.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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