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Iowa House OKs bill making identity theft a felony

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 11:44 a.m. CST

DES MOINES (AP) — The minimum charge for identity theft would be increased to a felony under legislation approved Monday by the Iowa House.

Current law allows offenders to be charged on a sliding scale, from an aggravated misdemeanor to a class D felony. Offenders commit a felony if the value of what they purchased with a stolen identity is more than $1,000.

The bill, approved 84-11 with bipartisan support, would make the minimum a class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison. But it provides exemptions to teenagers or underage adults who use fake or stolen identification cards to enter a bar, buy alcohol or cigarettes, or purchase an R-rated movie ticket.

Rep. Mark Brandenburg, R- Council Bluffs, said raising the penalty would deter identity theft crimes. He relayed a story about a constituent whose debit card was stolen by someone who purposely charged three different purchases under the felony threshold.

“Obviously this person was keeping his or her theft under $1,000 because they don’t want to be charged with a felony,” Brandenburg said. “In this particular situation (the bill) is a deterrent.”

But Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, questioned whether the bill was needed.