From the Office of State Senator John Carona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 1999
CONTACT: John Krueger, 512/463-0116

TEXAS SENATE APPROVES IDENTITY THEFT LEGISLATION BY SENATOR CARONA

(AUSTIN)--The Texas Senate today approved SB 46 by Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) which makes it a crime in Texas to fraudulently possess or use another person's identity to obtain credit, loans, or mortgages. "As technological developments continue to automate our financial transactions, the threat to our wallets is no longer the pick-pocket or purse-snatcher on the street, but rather the criminal intercepting our mail or using a computer to assume our identity and obtain access to our credit," Senator Carona explained.

Under current Texas law, credit card fraud and forgery are criminal offenses, but the behavior leading up to that fraud is not a crime. Because the state has no law against identity theft, law enforcement officials usually treat the retailer or credit card company as the only victim. In some reported cases, an identity thief has been able to make purchases totaling more than $100,000 through fraudulent use of someone else's identity. Senator Carona remarked, "My legislation will address the real victims of this crime by making identity theft a punishable offense."

SB 46 provides that a person commits the offense of identity theft if he or she obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses the identifying information of another without their consent and with the intent to harm or defraud another. An offense under this legislation is a state jail felony punishable with up to two years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. In addition, the court may order the defendant to make restitution to the victim and reimburse for lost income or other expenses, other than attorney's fees.

This legislation is modeled after a federal law passed by Congress in 1998. SB 46 provides state and local law enforcement the necessary tools to combat this crime in Texas rather than rely on federal government intervention.

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