For Immediate Release
July 15, 2004
Treasury Secretary Snow Discusses the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act
Secretary Snow: The President today signed legislation into law to provide tough penalties; real penalties,, jail time, prison time to people who engage in the wretched crime of identity theft.
This is the fastest growing financial crime in America. It affects some ten million people a year, it takes some $50 billion out of the U.S. economy and it has a wrenching affect upon the lives of the people affected.
This legislation sends a real message that the Administration and Congress are dead-set against this crime. are taking aim at it and are going to protect consumers.
The new bill is focused on the crime of identity theft and ups the penalties. It basically says if you do this crime, you are going to do serious time.
Legislation that the President signed last September provides a broad scheme of protection for consumers so that it is harder to steal their identity and so that if their identity is stolen they can quickly recover it.
This is through giving consumers the ability to get a credit report from any of the three credit reporting agencies. By going to those credit reporting agencies , getting by request this free report , you'll be able to determine, you as a consumer will be able to determine whether somebody is tampering with your identity. You can also put red alerts up, flags up, that will allow the banking system and require in effect the banking system and the credit agencies to watch out for your account and stop anybody from using your identity.
And finally we are enlisting the law enforcement agencies of the country through an information system of the country through an information system at will allow them to better get at the crime.
So important strides have been made in protecting consumers against identity theft and today the legislation that the President signed into law will mete out serious penalties - prison time for people who engage in this horrible, horrible crime.
By stopping this crime, and when you raise the penalties on a crime, it tends to reduce the crime. By reducing identity theft, we prevent the loss of some $50 billion to the American economy. By stopping identity theft, we prevent people from having to undergo this wrenching experience of the time and the effort and the hassle of reclaiming their own identity.
And we restore confidence in our credit institutions because identity theft is a real threat to our credit system and the way our credit markets operate. People need to have confidence that when they get a credit card, when they use credit, when they go into the consumer credit markets, their identity isn't going to be stolen. And if they are at risk of their identity being stolen, they are going to be a lot less willing to engage in the commerce using credit. And credit underlies our system of commerce.