|Letter from Rep. Billy Tauzin
(R-LA) to Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Re: identity theft and pretexting.
Date: June 19, 2001.
Source: House Commerce Committee.
The Honorable John Ashcroft
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear General Ashcroft:
On May 23, 2001 the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer protection held a hearing on online fraud and crime focusing on identity theft and related problems like pretexting. I was grateful for the participation and testimony of the Department of Justice at that hearing.
We are particularly interested in the steps the Department of Justice is taking to enforce existing criminal prohibitions against identity theft and pretexting. Representative Shimkus asked the Department about its actions in this area, and I was surprised to learn that the Department has not brought any cases to enforce existing prohibitions on pretexting.
I would be grateful if the Department would respond to the following questions so we may better understand the universe of statues prohibiting identity theft and pretexting, and the enforcement mechanisms that deter such conduct.
1. What federal statues prohibit identity theft or pretexting? What statues provide for information sharing among Federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies?
2. How long have each of these Federal statues been in force?
3. Has the Department of Justice received referrals from other law enforcement or regulatory agencies regarding pretexting or identity theft? Have any of these referrals led to investigations being opened? Have any open investigations led to the filing of criminal changes? If so, how many cases?
4. Please assess the scope of existing Federal statutes prohibiting identity theft and pretexting. Is the scope of existing law such that it is impractical to bring cases to enforce these statutes?
5. Does the Department have attorneys assigned to enforce the statutes listed in the response to question one? If so, how many? Is the Department devoting sufficient resources to enforce Congress' desire to eliminate these practices?
W.J. "Billy" Tauzin
cc: The Honorable Cliff Stearns
Chairman, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection
The Honorable John D. Dingell
Ranking Minority Member