New in 2009: An Act Concerning Consumer Privacy and Identity Theft
National statistics rank Connecticut highest in New England for identity scams, prompting recent passage of new consumer protections. Effective October 1, 2009, AN ACT CONCERNING CONSUMER PRIVACY AND IDENTITY THEFT broadens the definition of “identity theft," increases the penalty for criminal impersonation, and creates the crime of "unlawful possession of personal access devices."
The law makes it a crime to possess skimmers and re-encoders under certain circumstances. The Act also increases the penalties for identity theft when the victim is age 60 or older.
Also, a victim of identity theft may now sue for damages if the perpetrator is found guilty of trafficking in personal identifying information. The statute of limitations is extended from two to three years to help victims file lawsuits against criminals who have stolen their identity.Damages may include documented lost wages and any financial loss suffered by the victim as a result of the identity theft. It allows the court to award remedies that may be provided by law and requires, rather than allows, courts to issue orders to correct public records when a person is convicted of identity theft.
Under the law, any credential (for example a license or registration) issued by the state or political subdivision of the state that is obtained by making a material false statement, or that is physically altered to misrepresent a material fact, is rendered void and must be returned.
Perpetrators can be prosecuted in the geographical area or judicial district where the victim lives rather than where the alleged crime was committed.
Employers can be penalized for failing to (a) obtain and retain employment applications securely and (b) take reasonable measures to destroy or make them unreadable when disposing of them.
The state may seize money and items that were obtained through an identity theft scam, and deposit proceeds into a newly-created Department of Consumer Protection Privacy Protection Guaranty and Enforcement Account to pay for enforcing certain privacy protection laws and reimbursing victims.
The Department of Consumer Protection is authorized to investigate violations of identity theft laws and request that the Attorney General seek a restraining order or enjoin a violator.
Violations of any provision of this Act or any identity theft law can result in fines between $500 and $5,000, to be deposited into the Privacy Protection Account.
Criminals who steal the identity of a person over the age of 60 and remove more than $5,000 can be charged with first-degree identity theft, which is a Class B felony.