Under a new law that takes effect Thursday, those who commit identity theft will face harsher sentences.
Pushed by state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat, the legislature toughened the law on identity theft this year to broaden the definition of the crime and stiffen the penalties for those convicted.
Colapietro, who has represented the 31st District since 1992, said it’s an important change in the law that he is particularly glad to have played a role in such “a badly needed reform.”
“The statistics and the stories show that identity theft is a serious crime that can severely damage the reputation of its victims and cause long-lasting financial difficulties,” Colapietro said.
The senator said the beefed-up law will serve to “crack down on identity theft and make it easier for victims to receive justice.”
The new law “broadens the legal definition of identity theft” and targets especially those who target residents over the age of 60.
The law allows the state also to seize money or property obtained through identity theft, placing it in a state Department of Consumer Protection fund to provide victims with restitution.
Experts say identity thieves acquire personal information through a variety of sources, often electronically.
To try to prevent electronic identity thief, the law creates a provision to penalize the unlawful possession of personal access devices such as card readers, scanners and personal identification numbers.
It also tries to prevent crooks from stealing information from employment forms by penalizing employers who don’t secure sensitive information properly.
The law makes it possible to prosecute identity thieves where their victims live instead of only where the crime was committed. It also requires courts to correct public records tainted by identity theft and extends the statute of limitations on the crime from two to three years.
Colapietro hailed the “broad bipartisan support” the measure supported.
“This law will go a long way toward preventing this kind of crime and helping its victims to recover from it,” the senator said.
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