Sep 05 2001

IDENTITY THEFT FLOOR STATEMENT

Mr. President, I am pleased to join Senator Feinstein in introducing the “Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2001."

Unfortunately, with the growth of electronic commerce, there has been a corresponding growth in the number of high tech crimes. In fact, identity theft is now the fastest growing crime in the United States. Over the last few years, identity thieves have stolen billions of dollars from hundreds of thousands of people.

The difficulties for victims of identity theft do not simply end after the crime that has been committed. It can take years and considerable effort for victims to clear their names, reestablish their credit histories and get themselves back on their feet. In some cases, the crime never ends: stolen personal information is used repeatedly by numerous thieves placing individuals in an endless cycle of victimization.

Mr. President, the “Identity Theft Prevention Act” is intended as a first step towards combating this devastating crime. The legislation requires new, common sense measures such as: notifying a credit card holder of a request for an additional card or request to change an address; requiring consumer approval prior to the issuance of credit; and truncation of credit card account numbers on print-out receipts. These provisions are intended to reduce the opportunities of thieves to obtain the consumer data they use to commit fraud in the first place.

Additionally, in an effort to ease the considerable burdens the crime places on its victims, the bill makes it easier for consumers to report fraud and for them to quickly restore their credit history after they have been targeted.

Mr. President, the seriousness of the of the crime of identity theft has already been well documented in economic terms: hundreds of thousands of people have lost billions of dollars. However, the crime causes additional losses that far exceed the economic ones. An identity theft victim can lose his or her hard-earned good name and reputation in a matter of seconds. I believe Senator Feinstein’s bill will help prevent such assaults and it will help those who are victimized restore their credit record and their reputation more quickly. I am pleased to be an original cosponsor of this bill.