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BUSINESS BEAT: New laws will protect consumers against ‘skimmers’ that steal personal information

LANSING, MI (WTVB) -  Govorner Rick Snyder has signed a package of bills intended to safeguard Michiganders from devices used to steal their personal information and use it to commit fraud. The bills are included among 14 other pieces of legislation intended to help protect Michiganders and their property in a variety of ways. The five-bill package creates criminal penalties relating to the use of a “skimmer” device used to access a person’s financial information. The devices are illegally attached to automatic teller machines and record a person entering a PIN and read the information on the ATM or the debit or credit card’s magnetic strip. “These devices are used to steal from others, and we need to crack down on this problem to help protect Michiganders,” Snyder said. “This is a bipartisan package of bills approved unanimously, showing the united commitment to fighting this growing issue.” HB 5050, sponsored by state Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, makes it a crime to use the devices. A person convicted of the crime could face five years in prison for a first offense, increasing to 15 years for a third and subsequent offense.

Other items in the package include: HB 5051, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, increases the penalty for illegally using personal identifying information from a transaction without consent; HB 5054, sponsored by state Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to make selling or possessing a skimming device a felony. Other public consumer protection-related bills include: HB 4595, sponsored by then-Rep. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, would make it a felony for a scrap metal dealer to purchase scrap metal or an item of personal property if the dealer knows that it was stolen.  It also would be a felony for a person to sell such metal items to a dealer knowing that the materials were stolen. The bill requires the approval of HB 4593 before taking effect. That bill has not yet been passed, but is a priority for next year. It is now Public Act 217 of 2013. Visit legislature.michigan.gov for more information.