Law to help protect against identity theft

Law Establishes the Crime of Unlawful Possession of a "Skimmer" Device:

Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-I-C, Syracuse) said that a

bill (S8376A) he cosponsored to help prevent identity theft in New York has become law. The law establishes the crime of unlawful possession of a "skimmer" device and protects personal information in several other ways.

"Identity theft is a very serious crime and it is the fastest growing financial crime in the United States," Sen. DeFrancisco said. "Identity theft affects about 10 million Americans each year, and New York is sixth per capita in identity theft complaints. The prevalence of identity theft has prompted frequent legislative action, but unfortunately gaps still remain in New York State law. This legislation will strengthen our identity theft laws and help to protect individuals from the fraudulent use of their personal information."

On Nov. 1, 2008 a new provision for unlawful possession of a "skimmer" device went into effect. "Skimmers" are used by identity thieves to obtain personal identifying information such as numbers from credit cards.

Unlawful possession of a "skimmer" device in the second degree (when a person possesses a skimmer device with the intent to use) is a class A misdemeanor. Unlawful possession of a "skimmer" device in the first degree(when a person commits the crime of unlawful possession of a "skimmer" device and has been convicted of identity theft in the third degree) is a class E felony.

Several other measures recently went into effect (January 3, 2009), including the following key provisions:

- Establishing a process for identity theft victims to receive information and assistance from the Consumer Protection Board (CPB);

- Allowing consumers to request a freeze on their credit reports via telephone or secure electronic means;

- Prohibiting the filing of documents available for public

inspection that contain social security numbers;

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