Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Governor Blunt signs Grill's Identity Theft bill

Article in SUN Newspaper

By Michael Westblade

Thursday, July 10, 2008 1:12 AM CDT

Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill June 30, sponsored by state Rep. Jason Grill, that addresses identity theft and gives new protections to Missouri citizens.

The bill, which goes into effect Aug. 28, will provide victims of identity theft the right to contact their local law enforcement agency and request that an incident report be prepared and filed. They may also request a copy of the report.

While most jurisdictions may have already done this, Grill said the new statute will make sure police departments know they have to comply, and citizens will know they have the option to file a report.

In addition, the bill makes possession of five or more fictitious or forged means of identity with the intent to distribute to others for the purpose of committing a crime a Class C felony and allows consumers to request that a “security freeze” be placed on their credit report, which would prohibit credit reporting agencies from releasing the consumer’s credit report or score without specific authorization from the consumer.

In Missouri, a Class C felony brings imprisonment of up to seven years and fines up to $5,000.

The bill, Grill said, lets people know they have options when faced with an identity theft situation.

“A lot of people have had (identity theft) happen to them,” he said. “Hundreds in my district have. People want to have some sort of idea of what to do in this situation.”

According to a Federal Trade Commission report on identity theft released in 2008, Missouri was ranked 21st in the country for the amount of identity thefts during 2007, with 3,962 incidents.

Of those 3,962 incidents, 1,048 involved credit card fraud, 681 involved phone or utility fraud, 619 involved bank fraud, 303 involved government document or benefit fraud, 285 involved employee related fraud, 194 involved loan fraud, 1,084 were listed as other and 256 complaints involved attempts at identity theft.

Identity theft, Grill said, is an issue Missouri needs to face.

“I had received calls and e-mails from constituents with problems with identity theft and consumer protection issues,” he said. “Missouri has lagged behind. We had problems, and we didn’t do enough to protect people from identity theft.”