December 21, 2005
Jefferson City, Mo. — Missourians would have greater protection from the growing crime of identity theft under two bills proposed for the 2006 legislative session, Attorney General Jay Nixon said today. Senate Bill 680, filed by state Sen. Pat Dougherty, of St. Louis, and a companion bill to be filed in the House by state Rep. Sara Lampe, of Springfield, would put more safeguards in place to protect personal information and would enhance the penalty for those who use identity theft scams to prey upon the state's more vulnerable citizens.
The legislation would require businesses that keep consumers' personal financial information in computerized form to disclose in a timely manner any breach of security that may result in identity theft to consumers. The legislation would also:
Rep. Lampe's bill will also call for an enhancement to the penalty of identity theft when the victim is in a nursing home or hospital.
"During the past year, approximately nine million Americans were victims of identity theft, costing those consumers $5 billion directly and law enforcement, merchants and financial institutions another $47 billion," Nixon said. "Consumers need the tools for better control of their sensitive financial information and the ability to freeze their credit accounts if they suspect their credit has been compromised. These measures can help stop an identity thief before real damage is done."
"While the General Assembly has strengthened laws that define and criminalize identity theft, more needs to be done," said Rep. Lampe. "Victims will have more options to protect themselves under this bill, and more vulnerable individuals will have greater protection. We're pleased to have the support of the Attorney General in this effort."
"Common sense changes in state law can help protect Missourians from this growing category of crime," Sen. Dougherty said. "The key is to give greater protection to personal information to keep it from getting into the wrong hands."
Nixon said an estimated 3,900 Missourians reported being victims of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission last year.
Nixon reminded Missourians to take the following steps immediately if victimized by identity theft: