2002-10-12 / Community

Pataki Signs Identity Theft Bill

Pataki Signs Identity Theft Bill

New York State Governor George E. Pataki has announced that he has signed into law legislation making "identity theft" a crime in New York State.  The new law criminalizes identity theft and the unlawful possession of personal identification information to commit fraud or other criminal acts and enables victims to secure restitution for their losses.

"Identity theft is a gross violation of privacy that can have disastrous consequences for unsuspecting victims," Governor Pataki said. "This legislation will protect all New Yorkers and help combat the growing problem of identity theft by establishing tough new penalties for those who engage in these outrageous activities."

The law provides new criminal penalties for the unlawful, unauthorized use of identifying information, including names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers, ATM codes.  Under the new law, individuals who commit the crime of identity theft would be eligible for up to seven years in prison for the most
serious form of the crime.

The measure will also make victims of identity theft who incur costs
or losses due to adverse information being transmitted to a creditreporting agency eligible for restitution for financial losses.  In addition, victims will be able to pursue damages in a civil action.

More than 750,000 cases of identity theft occur in the United States
each year, an astounding 2,000 percent increase in the last decade.
Consumer advocacy groups have estimated banks have lost up $90 million annually due to identity theft and that number is projected to grow.
Consumer credit reporting agencies report that they receive hundreds of
calls every day from identity theft victims.

The law also provides important protections for consumers such as
allowing a court to order     restitution to a person who has suffered out
of pocket losses as a result of an identity theft     crime, order restitution of losses that a person incurs when his credit rating is affected, and     allows a consumer to bring a civil action against the perpetrator of the crime to recover for   the damages done to the consumer's credit ratings.

The new law takes effect November 1.

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