(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 []



                          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