Magazine article American Banker

What Penalty for ID Theft? Some in Mo. May Get Life

Magazine article American Banker

What Penalty for ID Theft? Some in Mo. May Get Life

Article excerpt

Missouri may soon have the toughest penalty yet for identity thieves --life imprisonment for the most serious offenses.

This week Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, is expected to sign a bill the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved March 4 that would toughen penalties for anyone convicted of identity theft.

The life penalty -- actually 10 years to life -- would be for identify theft that contributed to stealing $100,000 or more of money, goods, or services. Crimes involving as little as $500 could bring prison time; those connected to smaller losses would be misdemeanors.

The life-imprisonment penalty is necessary to show would-be identity thieves that the state takes the issue extremely seriously, said Tammy Corrigan, the legislative assistant for the bill's author, state Rep. Jason Brown, an identity theft victim.

"It's just so easy to obtain and steal information these days, particularly over the Internet, that identity theft is increasing astronomically," Ms. Corrigan said Thursday.

In 2002, the latest year for which data are available, Missouri ranked 18th in the nation in reported incidents of identity theft, with nearly 2,600 cases, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Credit card fraud was the most common kind, followed by phone or utilities fraud.

Across the country, identity theft cost financial institutions and other businesses nearly $48 billion in 2002, and consumers paid $5 billion to get their money back and clear their names, the FTC reported. …

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