Attorney General Charlie Crist News Release
May 7, 2003
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Attorney General Praises Passage of Identity Theft Legislation
– Penalties significantly increased for those convicted –
TALLAHASSEE – Attorney General Charlie Crist thanked the Legislature for passing legislation that targets the growing crime of identity theft. This new law, sponsored by Sen. Victor Crist, Sen. David Aronberg and Rep. Leslie Waters, significantly raises the penalties for those convicted of identity theft, enabling prosecutors to bring more felony charges against those who target law-abiding citizens.
"This new law will have a strong deterrent effect on those who would go on a multi-thousand dollar shopping spree on another person’s credit history," said Crist. "We are grateful to the Legislature for providing the state with the tools to treat these types of thieves as seriously as any other. Financial joy-riders must now factor in the possibility of prison time before ruining someone’s good name."
Among the provisions of the approved legislation, which was proposed by the Attorney General, is language to classify the theft of more than $20,000 as a second-degree felony, while the looting of more than $100,000 through identity theft would become a first-degree felony carrying a 30-year maximum prison sentence. A conviction of a second-degree felony carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
"Up to this point, the penalty has not fit the crime," said Crist. "Thanks to the Legislature’s good work, thieves should now understand that the stakes are much higher."
In his first official act, General Crist established the Fraud Hotline on January 7. By calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) citizens may report suspected identity theft along with other fraudulent activities. More than 7,500 calls have been received by the Hotline as of May 7.
The Office of Statewide Prosecution provides on-line information on identity theft prevention techniques and steps to take if a citizen becomes a victim of this crime. This information is available by clicking here.