OLYMPIA, Wash – A series of bills aimed at combating financial fraud in Washington – with estimated losses of at least $5 million last year, ranking the state the fourth highest for fraud losses in the nation – are being considered by the Legislature here. An industry alliance of credit unions, banks, retailers and the restaurant industry are lobbying for and testifying in support of the measures. Among the bills is SB 5718 (HB 1845), which would exempt financial institution account numbers, Social Security numbers and credit and debit card numbers from public records disclosure requirements unless expressly required by law or requested by a credit bureau of financial institution. Bob Harvey, president and chief executive office for Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union, was among those who urged passage of SB 5718 in testimony Feb. 13 before the Senate Financial Services, Insurance and Housing Committee. "Last year my institution alone suffered $120,000 in fraud-related losses, up from $85,000 the year before," said Harvey, a former police officer who also admitted that he was once the victim of identity theft. "As a police officer, it was neat to be able to run after the bad guys and pick them up and put them in jail, but it doesn't quite work that way with white-collar crime," he said. The Washington League reported that the cost of non-credit losses to financial institutions nationwide was more than $20 billion annually. Those losses include check and ATM fraud. In Washington State, consumers last year reported nearly $5 million in fraud losses to the Federal Trade Commission, according to Stacy Augustine, senior vice president of policy and public affairs for the league. To combat those losses, the Legislature is considering a number of different measures in addition to SB 5718. Among them are: *SB 5715 (HB 1842), which would allow financial institutions and merchants to exchange information for the purpose of preventing, detecting, deterring and assisting in the prosecution of financial fraud, bank robbery, money laundering and other financial crimes. The bill would establish a "fraud alert network" and would provide immunity for financial institutions and merchants who share such information. *SB 5716 (HB 1843) would make it a felony for any person to deal in illegal driver's licenses or identity cards. It would also allow crimes related to identity theft to be prosecuted in any location where the victim or financial institution was located or where any part of the offense occurred. *SB 5717 (HB 1844) would amend the law by creating six new crimes. They include unlawful production of payment instruments and unlaw possession of payment instruments, personal identification devices, fictitious identification, instruments of financial fraud or another person's identification. *SB 5719 (HB 1846) would stiffen the penalties for unlawful factoring of a credit card and would add provisions for using a scanning device to store or re-encode information from a credit or debit card without the permission of the user or with the intent to defraud. The legislative session is scheduled to end in late May -

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