Stronger Punishment Sought for Identity Theft in Okla.

January 12, 2006

With almost 2,000 cases of identity theft in Oklahoma in 2004, State Rep. Steve Martin believes it’s time to increase deterrence by hiking the penalties upon conviction.

Martin filed House Bill 2109, which would increase the sentence for identity theft from the existing penalty of up to two years in prison to a new minimum penalty of two years and a maximum penalty of seven years. Existing law also provides for fines up to $100,000.

“Perpetrators of identity theft subject their victims to great financial damage and incredible inconvenience. It can take years for the victims to straighten out credit records and put financial affairs back in order. At the same time, the perpetrators of identity theft can be very difficult to catch and prosecute. When a prosecution is successful, we need to treat the criminals more in line with the seriousness of the crime they committed and the damage that was done to the victim” said Martin, R-Bartlesville. “Increasing the sentence should make these people stop and decide if the crime is worth the risk.”

According to statistics from the Federal Trade Commission, these criminals mostly target victims age 18 to 29 through credit card fraud.

“These individuals are preying on young families in Oklahoma who are unaware of the way their financial information can be misused. This needs to be stopped,” said Martin.

Oklahoma ranks 29th in identity-theft rates per 100,000 population. Martin hopes his bill will instead make Oklahoma the nation’s leader in the fight against identity theft.

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives

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