Bill would let ID theft victims seek restitution

WASHINGTON Wed Oct 17, 2007 9:00am EDT

Senator Arlen Specter (L) asks a question of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (not shown) as Senator Patrick Leahy listens during testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington July 24, 2007. A bipartisan bill that would let victims of identity theft seek restitution for money and time they spent repairing their credit history was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Senator Arlen Specter (L) asks a question of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (not shown) as Senator Patrick Leahy listens during testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington July 24, 2007. A bipartisan bill that would let victims of identity theft seek restitution for money and time they spent repairing their credit history was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan bill that would let victims of identity theft seek restitution for money and time they spent repairing their credit history was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate.

The legislation would also give federal prosecutors more tools to combat identity theft and cyber crime, according to sponsors Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Leahy is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter is the ranking Republican on the panel.

Last year, 8.4 million Americans were victims of identity theft and many were left with a bad credit report which takes months or years to repair, the lawmakers said.

"Cyber criminals are getting smarter and more effective in their online efforts to strip Americans of their privacy, and their property," Leahy said in a statement.

The bill would also eliminate a requirement that the loss resulting from damage to a victim's computer must exceed $5,000 for prosecution; make it a felony to use spyware or keyloggers to damage 10 or more computers; and expand the definition of cyber crime to include extortion schemes that threaten to damage or access confidential information on a computer.

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