STAR-BULLETIN / DECEMBER 2004
These fake ID cards were among the array of items Honolulu police showed last year during a news conference about the growing problem of identity theft.
Lingle pushes 4 measures addressing credit fraud
The bills would give consumers new tools to combat ID theft
HONOLULU Police Lt. Jeff Richards remembers coming home to a furious wife who demanded to know why he was using a credit card to send $500 to a woman in Colorado.
There were other suspicious charges, too, as much as $2,200. But Richards was not spending money secretly. Thieves had stolen credit card notices from his Kailua mailbox and used the information to make the charges.
Just like that, he had become a victim of identity theft -- as did Honolulu attorney Bill McCorriston.
"An ice addict took my passport, he took my Social Security card, he took my checkbook and bank statements and he accomplished immeasurable damage to me and my family," McCorriston said.
These are not isolated cases in Hawaii, but they helped illustrate the problem of identity theft yesterday as Gov. Linda Lingle called on the Legislature to approve four bills to help fight it.
"Each year, hundreds of unsuspecting Hawaii residents fall prey to a variety of increasingly sophisticated identity theft crimes," Lingle said at a news conference at the state Capitol.
Mark Recktenwald, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Department director, said Hawaii's rate of credit card, phone and bank fraud as a percentage of all reported identity thefts is one of the highest in the country.
GOV. LINGLE'S ID THEFT PROPOSALS
Credit freeze: Stop credit bureaus from releasing information to unauthorized parties without the consumer's consent. This would stop thieves from opening new lines of credit under a victim's name.
Security breach notification: Require businesses keeping personal information to notify individuals if there has been a security breach.
Disposal protection: To keep criminals from using personal information kept by businesses and then thrown away, businesses would have to properly destroy consumers' personal data.
Social Security number protections: Restrict the use and transmittal of Social Security numbers.
Hawaii has the fifth-highest rate in the nation in consumer fraud cases as a result of identity theft and ranks 32nd in the country in identity theft overall, according to the Federal Trade Commission.*
Lingle's first proposal would allow ID theft victims to freeze access to their credit reports.
"Such a freeze would prevent identity thieves from taking out credit in the names of their victims," Recktenwald said, adding that a similar proposal was not passed by the Legislature earlier this year.
"We hope the events of the last year, with so many more people being victimized ... will change the view of the Legislature," Recktenwald said.
A second proposal would require businesses holding confidential information to notify consumers if there has been an unauthorized security breach.
Recktenwald said similar legislation has already been enacted in 21 states, including California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington.
"These two bills would work in tandem, giving victims notice if their security has been breached and giving them power to put a freeze on their credit report," Recktenwald said.
A third bill would require businesses that maintain confidential information to ensure that the information is destroyed properly when it is thrown away.
The final proposal would put limits on the uses of a Social Security number and prohibit a business from transmitting a Social Security number to third parties or printing the numbers on ID cards or documents mailed to customers.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
» Hawaii has the fifth-highest rate in the nation in consumer fraud cases as a result of identity theft and ranks 32nd in the country in identity theft overall, according to the Federal Trade Commission. A story on Page A1 yesterday incorrectly said Hawaii ranked fifth in reports of identity theft.