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US ID theft bill seeks redress for victims

Senators aim to tighten cybercrime law

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Senators on both sides of the House have backed a bill that would allow American victims of identity theft to seek restitution for the money and time they waste repairing their credit histories.

Last year, an estimated 8.4 million Americans were victims of identity theft, reckoned to be one of the fastest growing types of crime. Sorting out the resulting mess after fraudsters have obtained loans or credit cards in the names of victims can take months, even years, to resolve.

The proposed Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act - sponsored by Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania - would enable federal prosecutors to seek restitution for the time and money that victims spend restoring their credit histories.

Other measures in the proposed bill would tighten up existing US cybercrime laws. The proposed legislation would make it a felony to install spyware on ten or more computers. Scams involving threats to access confidential data on a prospective mark's PC would also become illegal, and a requirement that damages in excess of $5,000 must occur before felony prosecutions are initiated will be lifted.

More detail on the bill, tabled before the Senate on Tuesday, can be found in a press release from Senator Leahy here. ®

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