WASHINGTON – With identity theft on the rise, when Congress returns to session after Labor Day the Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2003 (H.R. 2971) may reach the House floor for a vote. "The wide availability and easy access to this very personal information has greatly facilitated Social Security number-related crimes," stated Ways and Means Committee Member Representative E. Clay Shaw Jr., (R-Fla.), who introduced the legislation. "Today, we literally have a culture of dependence on Social Security numbers, and these numbers play a key role in identity theft. It's no wonder identity theft was the Federal Trade Commission's number one consumer complaint last year." The legislation would bar government and private firms from selling and publicly displaying Social Security numbers. In addition, it would make it more difficult for businesses to deny services to customers who decline to provide their Social Security numbers and would increase penalties for violations of laws relating to their sale or display. The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved the legislation on July 21.

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