29 January 2004

Bills Target Computer Crimes and Identity Theft in Maryland


Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Two new Maryland bills are targeting computer crimes -- the growing problem of identity theft and hacking into government and public utility computers.

The bills are the work of Delegate Susan Lee, D-Montgomery, an attorney, but at Wednesday's news conference to introduce the legislation she had plenty of support from others, including Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler and Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.

Although interruptions to computer systems have been brief and have not caused extensive damage, Lee said, 'Computer experts are justifiably worried that the states' computers systems are vulnerable to cyber-terrorism.'

Maryland ranks 11th nationally in identity theft victims per 100,000 people, while D.C. is ranked 12th, according to information from Ivey's office.

Identity theft occurs when someone steals a name, Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number or other personal identifying information and uses the information for illegal purchases or other frauds.

A sense of urgency exists in trying to curb identity theft, Lee said, quoting FTC statistics showing the problem is increasing nationally."

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