Sweeney Measure To Help Combat Identity Theft Approved By Senate Commerce Committee

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney that would prohibit the use of scanning and re-encoding devices that are often used to gain illegal access to encoded information on ATM, credit, debit and other electronic payment cards was approved today by the Senate Commerce Committee.

“According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit card fraud is the number one type of identity theft reported by New Jerseyans,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “”This measure is designed to go after thieves who prey on unsuspecting patrons. Consumers should be able to use their credit cards and other electronic methods of payment without running the risk of having their bank accounts cleaned out or identity stolen by a dishonest waiter or store clerk who scans their card for personal use while the consumer isn’t looking.”

Senator Sweeney’s measure, S-2617, would prohibit the use or possession of the scanning devices often used in identity theft practices. The measure would make it a third degree crime to intentionally defraud a consumer by using the device to access account information or transfer personal information to another card. In New Jersey, third degree crimes are punishable by three to five years in prison and or fines of up to $15,000. The bill would make knowingly possessing a re-encoding device or any other equipment or software designed to be used with a scanning device to commit a violation a fourth degree crime, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and or fines of up to $10,000.

Identity thieves use the scanners and re-encoders, which are no larger than the size of a credit card, to record card numbers and other personal information from credit cards, and transfer the information to another card at a later date, for illegal use.

“Identity theft ends up harming everyone involved but the thief,” said Senator Sweeney. “Consumers, retailers and banks all lose money, which can ruin credit and result in higher prices and interest rates. This bill would send a clear message to identity thieves that New Jersey will not tolerate them stealing from innocent consumers.”

This measure now awaits a vote by the full Senate.

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