By Iowa Congressman Tom Latham
We hear and read about it far too often. Take these headlines just from July: “Online Scam Hijacks Social Security Benefits” (USA Today), “More Thieves Stealing Children’s Identities” (Ozark Today), “War Veteran’s Money, Identity, Stolen” (WABC-TV), “Beware of Obamacare Scams As Fraudsters Prey On Confusion” (Washington Post), “Army Inspector Accused of Stealing Dead Soldiers’ Identities” (FOX News).
Over and over stories like these report how criminals are constantly on the lookout for ways to scam and steal the money and identities of anyone they can. The price tag is steep — according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, one million fraud incidents cost consumers nearly $1.5 billion in 2012. That’s nearly one-fourth the size of Iowa’s state budget and more than twice the amount Iowa will spend on the entire justice system in the state this year.
Not only do these crimes hit our nation’s already struggling economy for substantial amounts of money each year — they also hit the financial security and credit of their individual victims. Unfortunately, individual state laws dealing with these types of scams are often inadequate, and federal laws are outdated and have not kept up with evolving technology that has allowed these scams to grow with ease.
I believe it is time we change that.
In the coming months I plan on introducing legislation in the United States Congress that comprehensively reforms our nation’s laws to better address and prevent incidents of identity theft, and more strongly deter and punish anyone who commits the crime. As this process unfolds, I am asking for your help and advice on what this bill should contain to better protect all Americans from the crimes of fraud and identity theft.
On my website at Latham.House.gov, there is a new form that asks two simple questions: What would you like to see in this comprehensive legislation, and have you, a family member, a friend or someone you know been affected by identity theft? Any information provided will give me an even better idea of what solutions we can pursue in this fight and the nature of the crimes we’re up against — and the feedback you provide will be kept strictly confidential. Only with your express permission would I share your submission publicly should I find it particularly constructive.
The form is located at: https://latham.house.gov/forms/form/?ID=2685.
Additionally, I am holding a series of Action for Iowa Community Town Meetings in the Third Congressional District throughout August to discuss this issue and hear your opinions. Please check back on my website, my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/tom.latham.733), and your local sources for news and information as details become available.
With your help, I believe we can better combat identity theft and the scams that people run to carry out these crimes.