December 9, 2003 - Issue: Vol. 149, No. 176 — Daily Edition108th Congress (2003 - 2004) - 1st Session
INTRODUCTION OF THE IDENTITY THEFT INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION ACT OF 2003
(Extensions of Remarks - December 09, 2003)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E2485-E2486] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] INTRODUCTION OF THE IDENTITY THEFT INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION ACT OF 2003 ______ HON. ROBERT C. SCOTT of virginia in the house of representatives Monday, December 8, 2003 Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, today, I am introducing in the U.S. House of Representatives the ``Identity Theft Investigation and Prosecution Act of 2003'' with my colleagues Rep. Howard Coble, the gentleman from North Carolina, Rep. John Conyers, the gentleman from Michigan, Rep. Ed Case, the gentleman from Hawaii, Rep. Martin Frost, the gentleman from Texas, Rep. Barney Frank, the gentleman from Massachusetts, Rep. Howard Berman, the gentleman from California, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, the gentlewoman from Illinois, Rep. Barbara Lee, the gentlewoman from California, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the gentleman from Ohio, as original cosponsors. This bill will address the issue of identity theft and fraud immediately by [[Page E2486]] providing the Department of Justice, DOJ, with resources specifically for that purpose. With the advent of the Internet, identity theft has grown exponentially in recent years. The Federal Trade Commission, FTC, recently released a survey showing that 27.3 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the last five years, including 9.9 million people in the last year alone. According to the release, last year's identity theft losses to businesses and financial institutions totaled nearly $48 billion, with consumer victims reporting $5 billion in out-of-pocket losses. While most identity thieves use the information to make purchases, according to the FTC release, 15 percent of victims--almost 1.5 million people in the last year--reported that their personal information was misused in nonfinancial ways, such as to obtain government documents, for tax fraud, and other non-financial purposes. The most common nonfinancial misuse took place when the thief used the victim's name and identifying information upon routine stops by law enforcement officials, or while attempting or committing a crime. Identity theft prevention and detection can assist in preventing terrorism, as well. The Identity Theft Investigation and Prosecution Act would provide 100 million dollars to the Department of Justice, DOJ, for dedicated enforcement of the laws against identity theft and credit card fraud. While states can enforce similar state laws, today's interstate travel, Internet and technology realities make it difficult and cumbersome for state prosecutors to effectively address national and international identity theft and credit card fraud scams. We already have sufficient laws to address identity theft. It is a serious crime to use someone else's identity and credit to steal money, goods, services or to use the information to perpetuate other frauds. The problem is that there are not sufficient dedicated resources where they are most needed to have a significant immediate impact on the matter. We have developed the ``Identity Theft Investigation and Prosecution Act of 2003'' to do just that. Much effort is underway to prevent and limit identity theft and fraud through consumer education, consumer hotlines, public service announcements, more sophisticated identity theft detection and cutoff mechanisms, law enforcement and consumer advocacy training, etc. Yet, it is not enough to effectively address the problem. Although credit card companies wipe out most credit card fraud debts for the victims, the thieves are rarely pursued or prosecuted. The DOJ devotes some resources and enforcement toward identity theft, but it is not a high priority in its law enforcement scheme to pursue enough cases to have an impact. Identity thieves know they can pursue their crimes with a high degree of impunity. This bill would enable the DOJ to establish a large, national enforcement program to go after identity theft and abuse. ____________________