To determine if the government is doing enough to protect the public, we need to understand the effectiveness of the current laws which prevent or deter identity theft. We need to determine if the laws we have now are effective in deterring criminals from attempting identity theft or if we need to create stronger laws in order to protect law-abiding citizens from this crime. To date, there is very little in the way of research in the effectiveness of identity theft laws. One of the reasons for this is that the majority of law is controlled by the individual state. Given the way the Internet works, seldom is the criminal and victim in the same state when the crimes occur. Even if there were a sufficient federal law, much of that would be compromised due many criminals residing outside of the United States. The criminals would need to be extradited to the United States in order to face prosecution.
I propose to study the effectiveness of the Virginia identity theft law and compare it to the law that is in effect in other states. In Virginia the state law for identity theft is § 18.2-186.3 - Identity theft; penalty; restitution; victim assistance. This law provides all of the coverage for identity theft in the state of Virginia. In addition to comparing the effectiveness of this law to other states, there are additional questions that will be attempted to resolve.
Are all state laws basically the same?
What makes the law different in other states?
How do the state and federal governments work together to enforce these laws since many happen across state boundaries?
Would we be better served making identity theft a federal crime and covered under federal law than leaving it to the states?
It is the hope of this researcher that the answer to these questions can open the debate which will lead to better protection for our citizens. Currently, with the rate of growth in the area of identity theft it seems like the government and the laws created to protect citizens have fallen behind and need to be caught up, but it needs to be done correctly. This study will show what works and does not work when it comes to providing a deterrence to committing identity theft.
In order to complete this study, we will use a mix of data collection methods from several different audiences. The goal of this research is to conduct analytical research. In this research we will be attempting to understand why the laws that currently protect personal identity work or do not work and provide an explanation for why it is that they work or do not work. The desire is that upon conclusion of the research we will have an idea of what can be done to better protect people’s identity from identity thieves and that we can present this to lawmakers so that the laws can be improved. To conduct this research we will use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research methods (Howie, 2010).
The quantitative methods that we will be using include surveys and we will be conducting an analysis of arrests and conviction rates based on the identity theft