Given the growing incidence of identity theft, many might assume that tougher penalties would be imposed on criminals who fraudulently use the information of many victims. However, current laws do not enforce different standards for punishing identity thieves. This means that the punishment for a criminal who steals the identity of 1,000 people would be the same for someone who steals the information of 2 people, according to the Wall Street Journal. But, if Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance gets his way, this law will change.
A current bill sponsored by two New York Democrats and supported by Vance would place harsher penalties on those that victimize a large group as opposed to a small group or individual, the Journal reports.
"Current New York law places 20th century limitations on 21st century investigations," Vance told the newspaper. "With this new legislation, New York can lead the nation in providing law enforcement officials with the tools that they need to combat complex crime in the digital age."
The measure would also impose stricter punishments for criminals that target elderly individuals for fraud or identity theft, the newspaper said. In addition, the bill would add identity theft to the list of crimes for which wiretapping could be used to detect or investigate the offense, according to the Journal. The newspaper reported that the worst cases of identity theft would fall under felony classifications, equating them with possession of stolen property and grand larceny under the proposed bill.
The issue of identity theft will be discussed with Albany lawmakers and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the newspaper reports.
Identity theft has grown over the years to affect more than 11 million Americans each year. Technology has played a large role in the increased number of identity theft cases, as individuals and businesses alike utilize database systems to input, store and transfer sensitive data. As lawmakers continue to find ways to help stem data breaches and theft, many criminals have resorted to traditional ways of scamming Americans.
Recent events, such as the passage of health care reform and ongoing natural disasters, have opened the door for criminals to pose as relief workers and insurance agents. In doing so, many criminals have been able to retrieve money and personal information from their victims by claiming to sign them up for fake health insurance or requesting information for local charities.