Florida Rep. Larry Ahern (R-Seminole) has filed a bill that he says will help law enforcement agencies go after identity theft criminals.
HB 691, Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information, was filed Feb. 11. The summary of the bill states the law:
"Deletes requirement that person who willfully & without authorization possesses personal identification information concerning individual without first obtaining that individual's consent have intent to fraudulently use information in order to commit specified violation; requires that person have an opportunity to explain the person's actions before an arrest may be made; provides exception."
“In speaking with local law enforcement, we’re finding that it’s difficult to prosecute those in possession of any amount of personal identification information because it’s nearly impossible to prove that they intend to use it,” Ahern said in a news release “ID fraud and identity theft are huge issues in this country right now.
"This legislation will help protect Floridians by stopping criminals before they have a chance to use the information they’ve stolen," Ahern added.
According to a news release, Ahern has been working with Clearwater Police Chief Tony Holloway on the legislation. According to police, there have been several recent instances where the Clearwater Police Department has been unable to make an arrest because of the wording of the current statutes.
"When we catch a suspect prowling outside of a home with a mask, gloves and crow bar, we don't just pat him on the back and send him on his way,” Holloway said in a news release. “Unfortunately, with the current law, that's what we have to do when we find a suspect who has a list of hundreds of names, social security numbers and other personal information. This bill will change that."
Ahern represents the Florida House's District 66, which includes parts of Clearwater, Largo, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Seminole.