ID theft bill closer to becoming law

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Possessing other people's IDs and credit card information in Florida isn't necessarily a crime. Police have to prove the person with the information plans to commit fraud.

In less than three minutes Wednesday, the House voted to change that, and on Thursday, it was the Senate's turn to take action.

Rep. Larry Ahern is sponsoring the legislation making it a felony to possess IDs, credit cards or the banking information of five or more people.

There are exceptions. Parents, teachers or other workers who have a legitimate reason to possess the information are exempt. This bill targets the bad guys.

Like the parents of a 6-year-old who brought a plastic bag full of debit and credit cards to show-and-tell. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office questioned the parents but had to let them go.

"We were not able to charge the parents because, as the law stands now, the mere possession of 52 debt cards is not illegal. We have to show intent," said Robert Ura, of the Sheriff's Office.

Stories like that filled the halls of the state Capitol. On Wednesday, police got their wish. The Florida House sped through House Bill 6-91, with a vote of 118-0 in favor.

On Thursday, a Senate committee heard the bill. Senate Sponsor Arthenia Joyner expects quick passage in her chamber.

"I'm looking forward to it passing so they can effectively use it and put a stop to the carnage that is happening to people with their credit," Joyner said.

Florida leads the nation in tax fraud. The hope is the new law will help the state shed the title.

The bill creates a misdemeanor for people caught with four or fewer pieces of other people's information.

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