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Published: Thursday, 7/20/2006

Tougher identity-theft legislation urged

MONROE - State Rep. Kathy Angerer (D., Dundee) and House candidate Kate Ebli (D., Monroe) held a joint news conference on Tuesday to encourage tougher legislation on identity theft.

Michigan Democrats met at nine locations across the state to announce similar plans.

"Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes right now, and the victims are often at-risk people, be they elderly or handicapped in some way," said Ms. Ebli, a retired Comcast vice president. "We really need to get some tough legislation in Michigan to show that the identity-theft business is not open business in Michigan anymore."

She and Ms. Angerer said they wish to "strengthen consumers' right to know." Companies in Michigan are not required to notify consumers if their identity has been compromised.

In May, 2006, the identities of about 2.2 million service members and reservists were stolen from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' database.

Ms. Ebli's husband, Nick, and her father, William Hannan, 88, were among those whose identity was stolen.

Ms. Ebli and Ms. Angerer also advocate increasing penalties for identity thieves. In Michigan, the penalty is currently up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

They said they will propose legislation to increase those penalties to up to 14 years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines.

"We anticipate that House Democrats will be releasing this legislation very shortly," said Ms. Ebli.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that over 10 million people have been victims of identity theft.

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