ID theft bill moving through Fla. legislature

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - If someone in Florida steals your Social Security number or banking information right now, it's only a crime if prosecutors can prove intent to use the information.

Police in Florida are being forced to let fraudsters go because intent can be hard to prove.

"A 6-year-old came to school during show-and-tell with a Ziploc baggie full of 52 debit cards and 52 different names," said Capt. Robert Ura, of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

On Thursday, Ura told lawmakers the child's parents weren't breaking the law.

"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," Ura said.

The captain was testifying in support of a bill to criminalize the possession of other people's IDs, banking numbers and tax information without consent.

If the bill becomes law, a person caught with the personal information of up to four people could be charged with a misdemeanor. If they have five or more IDs, then they could be charged with a felony.

The bill makes exceptions for employers, parents and anyone else who has a right to have the information.

"This gives law enforcement the tools that they desperately need to stop identity theft in Florida," said Rep. Larry Ahern, the bill's sponsor.

Ahern filed the legislation after a police chief showed him thousands of IDs discovered on shady characters.

"Beyond surprised, shocked when he told me and showed me things, pictures of all the IDs they had found on people either during a traffic stop or drug bust," Ahern said.

The bill quickly passed a House committee Thursday morning. An hour later, a Senate committee OK'd the bill.

The bill took off in the Senate after the sponsor watched a news report about the problems facing police dealing with ID thieves. As of Thursday, it's passed a committee in both chambers and is on a fast track to reach the floor before the end of session.

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