Glendale, I would call that extreme."
The House of Representatives passed an identity theft bill last
week that would penalize someone an additional two years for using
another's identity information for financial gain or criminal
activity. Current sentences depend on the suspect's criminal history
and the severity of the crime, and range from probation to five years
in prison, authorities said.
The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which was written by
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Glendale) and Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), was
approved Friday by the Senate, so the bill goes to President George
W. Bush for a final decision no later than September.
Stokes hopes the federal legislation, if made into law,
jump-starts similar legislation at the state level.
"I don't think [the federal legislation] will have much effect on
what goes on locally," Stokes said. "It's a federal law that has no
impact on what we do in state court. But I do hope this will prompt
the state Legislature to pass a similar law. That's where we need to
put more effort."
The legislation would give federal prosecutors more power in
bringing new and separate charges of "aggravated identity theft" for
any person accused of using the identity of another to commit certain
The bill also amends existing law to prohibit not only the
"transfer or use" of someone else's identity information, but also
the possessing the information with intent to commit a crime.
"It will be a strong start if we get this going at the federal
level," Schiff said. "We'll be taking a big step toward deterring
these crimes. But I agree that the bill doesn't help on the state
side of things. It falls onto the state to determine if they have the
resources to follow up with something similar."
In Glendale, the most common identity theft incidents involve
people using debit-card or credit-card numbers to make purchases,
without using the actual card. People often take other people's
checking account numbers and use the numbers to print counterfeit
checks, Stokes said. For every 100,000 people who live in Glendale,
about 300 are victims of identity theft each year, Stokes said.
Almost 200,000 people live in Glendale.
Stokes said local police departments like Glendale's are working
more with federal agencies like the Secret Service to get information
on suspected identity theft cases, so officers can prove that items
such as cars and homes were purchased with stolen money. Officials
will seize property when it's proved to have been purchased with
stolen money, Stokes said.