Thursday, February 3, 2011

State Rep. Barker concerned over loophole in Colorado’s identity-theft law

A loophole in the state’s identity-theft law is drawing the scrutiny of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Mark Barker, R-Colorado Springs, told the panel this week he wants to address the concern with his House Bill 1049.

Barker said that many people who are now being caught with identities other than their own tell authorities they made up the identifying information, such as a Social Security number, so they can’t be charged with a more serious crime, identity theft—a felony. Current laws targeting identity theft require proof that the person using the false identity knew they were stealing someone else’s identity.

The Judiciary Committee’s Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, said the issue is a pressing one.

“A lot of people are finding a loophole in the law regarding identity theft,” said DelGrosso. “Even though they actually are stealing someone’s identity, they cannot be charged with it, because the law states they have to know they are stealing someone’s identity.”

Barker said his bill is intended to apply zero tolerance to those who use someone else’s identity for their own benefit in light of the immense harm that the crime causes the victim.

“If you use someone’s ID … this law applies to you and the public policy is that we are going to punish you harshly,” said Barker. “The harm occurs to the victim whether the offender knows there is a victim or not.”

Some members of the panel stated their reluctance to support the bill, citing possible unintended consequences.

“So what this is saying is it doesn’t matter if you don’t know whether you have permission or not. You could believe it’s fake and have no intention of assuming another live person’s identity,” said Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder. “You may just be trying to get admission into an after-hours bar or get on an airplane and you’re not actually trying to assume someone’s identity, but it’s assumed that you are committing identity theft.”

HB1049 will be heard again on Thursday in House Judiciary for an up or down vote.

Via - Colorado News Agency

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