The Iowa House has passed several bills designed to crack-down on e-mail scams and identity theft. Representative Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, says it’s an effort to provide more “cyber-protection” to Iowans. Dix says the proposed restrictions won’t completely eliminate SPAM — unwanted, junk e-mail — but the legislature is taking a step in the right direction.One bill increases the penalties against “cyber criminals” and protects computer owners and users from the surreptitious installation of so-called “spyware.” Dix says the legislation goes after those who try to secretly spy on people as they surf the Internet. Someone found guilty of such spying could be fined up to a million dollars. Another bill that passed the House triples the amount of damages someone can seek if they are the victim of identity theft and makes it a crime to use a bank’s name, trademark or logo in an email to trick someone into giving up their personal financial information. Representative Libby Jacobs, a Republican from West Des Moines, says the bill also allows a bank to go after identity theives who prey on the bank’s clients. Jacobs says according to the latest statistics, from 2002 to 2003 there was a 63 percent increase in identity theft cases involving Iowans. “With more and more cases reported every day, we want to make sure we have the teeth in our law to try to prevent these,” Jacobs says. Representative Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says he met several victims of identity theft while he was campaigning this past fall. Hogg says it’s very upsetting to find someone has stolen such personal information and created serious financial hardships.
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