State Law Aims To Crack Down On Identity Theft

A new state law that went into effect this month broadens the definition of identity theft and strengthens the penalties against the crime.

The law was proposed by Gov. M Jodi Rell and builds on reforms the Republican has advocated for since taking office.

In 2005, for example, Rell formed an Identity Theft Advisory Board, which brought together state agencies and organizations to identify vulnerabilities, develop remedies and establish much stronger penalties for criminals who misappropriate the identifying information of others, including Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and other personal data.

“Identity theft is an incredibly destructive crime,” Rell said in a written statement. “It not only robs victims of assets, but it can have devastating, long-term effects on everything from personal credit to security clearances.”

In 2008, there were 10 million identity theft victims in the United States, a 22 percent increases compared to 2007, according to a study done by Javelin Strategy and Research. Additionally, 1.6 million households experienced fraud not related to credit cards. For example, their bank accounts or debit cards were compromised.

Households with incomes higher than $70,000 were twice as likely to experience identity theft as those with salaries under $50,000, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

And while the threat of identity theft is frightening the consequences of actually experiencing it can cost major time and money.

According to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center, it can take up to 5,840 hours, or the equivalent of working a full-time job for two years to correct the damage from ID theft, depending on the severity of the case.

The average victim spends 330 hours repairing the damage.

Meanwhile, businesses across the world lose $221 billion a year due to identity theft, and the average cost per victim is about $500, according to Javelin Strategy and Research.

The new state laws, which took effect Oct. 1, broaden the definition of identity theft by eliminating the requirement that personal identifying information be obtained without permission. Under the act, a person commits identity theft when he or she knowingly uses another’s personal identifying information to obtain or attempt to obtain money, credit, goods, services, property, or medical information.

The law also toughens penalties for those convicted of victimizing senior citizens age 60 or older, by lowering the threshold for what constitutes identity theft in the first and second degree.

By law, identity theft in the first degree is now committed when the value of the goods or services stolen is greater than $5,000. Prior to that, the threshold was $10,000. Identity theft in the second degree is committed against someone age 60 or older when the value of goods or services stolen is any amount.

Rell said elderly victims can find it especially difficult to recover from identity theft because of the complexity and red tape involved, which is why she lobbied for those specific guidelines in the legislation.

The new law also creates the crime of unlawful possession of personal access devices, such as credit card readers or scanners, account numbers, personal identification numbers or PIN numbers.

Additionally, the new also establishes a Privacy Protection Guaranty and Enforcement Account, which will be funded with fines imposed on violators and property forfeited under the act’s provisions.

The fund will be used to help individuals whose identity has been stolen.

Finally, the law also extends from two years to three years the period in which a victim can sue for damages against a person convicted of stealing their identity and requires, rather than allows, a court to issue orders correcting public records.

 Identity theft is an international crime and is only getting started and it is not if but when you will become a victim of this horrible crime. We will all need something to combat this problem in all phases and facets. To learn more about identity theft, and learn about the most comprehensive ID theft plan out there, log on to http://www.prepaidlegal.com/idt/bking62.

 

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