Honorable Orrin Hatch
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Privacy, Identity Theft, and the Protection of Your Personal
Information in the 21st Century?
February 14, 2002
United States Senator , Utah
As we recently have been made acutely aware, identity theft has become
one of the most critical tools of the criminal trade - of terrorists as
well as other criminals. In this information age, identity theft is one
of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Of the 204,000 consumer
fraud complaints compiled by the Federal Trade Commission last year, 42%
involved identity theft. Recent news reports suggest that as many as 750,000
identities are stolen each year.
This Subcommittee is well aware of how criminals appropriate personally
identifiable information, including Social Security numbers, to steal
money, credit records, victims' good names, and, in some cases, to commit
violent crimes. As a result, victims incur substantial harms, including
financial losses, damaged credit histories, and legal problems, which
take long periods of time to rectify.
In 1997, Senator Kyl introduced "The Identity Theft and Assumption
Deterrence Act." Together we worked with our House counterparts to enact
this bill into law. Among other things, the Act made it a crime to transfer
or use, without lawful authority, a person's means of identification,
including a Social Security number, with the intent to commit a violation
of Federal law, or a felony under State or local law.
"The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act" represented an essential
first step in our effort to curb identity theft. But we can, and should,
consider additional preventive measures to reduce this pervasive problem.
In so doing, however, we must be careful to ensure that such legal reforms
do not unduly restrict businesses and financial institutions in their
legitimate commercial dealings.
I applaud Senator Feinstein's effort to develop legislation that attempts
to balance the privacy rights of consumers with the needs of this nation's
businesses, and I am committed to working with her and this Subcommittee
to strike the proper balance between these important interests.
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