Federal Identity Theft Task Force Reviews Prosecution Standards
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Are there any plans for stronger prosecution standards for identity theft?
In May of 2006, the President signed an Executive Order establishing an Identity Theft Task Force, directing it to develop a coordinated strategic plan to combat id theft. Among other recommendations, the plan was directed to include suggestions for "ensuring just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate identity theft." Task Force recommendations specific to prosecution and punishment for identity theft -- which can also be found in detail on the FTC's website -- include:
· Requiring each United States Attorney's Office to appoint an identity theft coordinator and develop an Identity Theft Program for each District, and creating working groups and task forces to focus on the investigation and prosecution of identity theft.
· Amending federal statutes and guidelines used to prosecute identity-theft related offenses. Specific proposed amendments include:
- Amending the identity theft and aggravated identity theft statutes to ensure that identity thieves who misappropriate information belonging to corporations and organizations can be prosecuted. Also, add new crimes to the list of predicate offenses for aggravated identity theft offenses, such as mail theft, tax fraud, and conspiracy to commit those crimes.
- Amending the statute that criminalizes the theft of electronic data to eliminate the current requirement that the information must have been stolen through interstate communications.
- Amending 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5) to eliminate the current requirement that the defendant's key-logging or malicious spyware actions must cause ‘damage' to computers and that the loss must exceed $5,000.
- Outlawing pretexting.
- Enacting legislation to make it a felony for data brokers and telephone company employees to sell or transfer customer information without prior written authorization from the customer.
- Amending the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to ensure that an identity thief's sentence can be enhanced when the criminal conduct affects more than one victim.