HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Scam artists who set up fake websites to steal personal information and defraud businesses would face tougher penalties in Pennsylvania under legislation approved Tuesday by the state House of Representatives.
House Bill 969 would make so-called “phishing” a felony with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Phishing is a ruse that uses email and other electronic messages to direct users to a bogus website that mimics a legitimate agency, bank or business. Visitors are then prompted to enter Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, or other personal information.
State Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington) said his measure additionally would enable civil actions by victims, Internet service providers and the attorney general’s office. Civil damages could reach up to $100,000 for each violation and courts could triple damage awards for repeated violations.
The bill is headed to the state Senate.