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California makes phishing punishable by law

Schwarzenegger signs first of its kind bill

Updated: 1:15 a.m. ET Oct. 1, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Friday making Internet "phishing" identity theft scams punishable by law.

The bill, advanced by state Sen. Kevin Murray, is the first of its kind in the United States and makes "phishing" — getting people to divulge personal information via e-mail by representing oneself as a business without the approval or authority of the business — a civil violation.

Victims may seek to recover actual damages or $500,000 for each violation, depending upon which is greater. Phishing often involves the use of names of legitimate banks, retailers and financial institutions to convince recipients of bogus e-mail offers to respond.

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