By Brian Krebs October 1, 2008 Washington Post
"President Bush last week signed into law a bill that seeks to make it easier for prosecutors to go after cybercrooks, while ensuring that identity theft victims are compensated for their time and trouble when convicted identity thieves are forced to cough up ill-gotten gains.
The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008 lowers the bar prosecutors need to clear before bringing hacking and other cybercrime charges against an individual. Under current federal cybercrime laws, prosecutors must show that the illegal activity caused at least $5,000 in damages before they can bring charges for unauthorized access to a computer. The new law eliminates that requirement. "
Provided of course that the thief is caught and brought to justice. With less than 5% of identity thieves being nabbed this law will only help a small minority of the victims. It is a step in the right direction however.
Just as important as this new law is, actually another portion of the article really caught my eye.
"Some ID theft victims can spend thousands of dollars and months or years dealing with credit bureaus and debtors from accounts fraudulently opened in their names, but the law doesn't appear to take into account lost opportunities associated with identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit. "
It is just as important to understand that victims of identity theft are faced with the massive task of fighting nearly overwhelming obstacles in clearing up identity theft episodes. The banking system has certain measures in place to deal with fraud on bank and credit accounts. Once you leave the banking realm however, the bureaucracy of databases and information repositories can prevent a maze of challenges to clearing up false entries and records inaccuracies.