WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.. – With identity theft on the rise legislation is cropping up across the country in hopes that it will somehow slow it down. "I think we are going to see a flurry of these sorts of initiatives in the next several months," said Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego. "Identity theft has been going on unchecked for so long that Congress is in a mood to do something about it." Last year the Federal Trade Commission logged 161,819 complaints of identity fraud – nearly double the number of complaints from 2001. Nationwide, the cost of non-credit losses to financial institutions is more than $20 billion each year. Non-credit fraud, which includes check fraud and ATM fraud continues to grow at an exponential rate with advances in technology. Idaho Credit Union League CEO Alan Cameron drafted House Bill 134, which recently was passed into law to restrict the information that can be included on receipts given to cardholders. The Idaho Banker's Association, Idaho Department of Finance and Idaho Retailer's Association supported the bill. Effective January 1, 2004 merchants using electronic registers or other receipt printers including ATMs may no longer print more than the last five digits of the account number and my not print the expiration date of the card on the receipt given to consumers. While this may seem like old hat to some, until recently Idaho law did not limit the information that could be included on a receipt given when a debit or credit card is used to pay for goods or services. The law has a phase-in period so merchants can either reprogram their receipt printers or purchase new equipment. All electronically printed receipts must be compliant by January 1, 2005. According to Washington Credit Union League President/CEO John Annaloro "financial fraud is the new name for bank robbery in America." A year ago in Olympia, Washington the Financial Fraud Task Force began exploring ways both legislative and non-legislative to combat financial fraud. A total of six bills were proposed. Governor Gary Locke has recently signed into law a financial-fraud package containing five of the bills. See sidebar for a breakdown of the bills. In Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed Senate Bill 135, which will significantly raise the penalties for violating the state's existing identity fraud and identity theft statutes. The maximum fine for identity theft has now been increased from $5,000 to $25,000. In Oklahoma legislation that would require residents to have their finger scanned when they get a driver's license passed the state Senate and may soon be headed to the governor's desk. If the bill becomes law, the finger scan will be converted into data that will be on file in the Public Safety Department and can be used to keep someone from using another's license. The bill would take effect July 1. Other states with finger-imaging systems include Colorado, Mississippi, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. In Austin, Texas the House has tentatively approved House Bill 1026 by Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, (R-Lampasas), which would prohibit the use of Social Security numbers as primary student identification and would restrict public access. In addition it would require institutions to maintain confidential records in secure storage facilities, with limited access to approved personnel only. Protecting students from identity theft became a priority after a hacker stole 55,000 Social Security numbers from the University of Texas computer system. Agents said they believe they recovered the stolen information and that it was not used for any criminal purposes. If signed into law, HB 1026 would go into effect Sept. 1. Colleges and universities would have until Sept. 1, 2007 to comply. Institutions that do not comply by the deadline will not receive funding for that year from the Toward Excellence, Access, and Success grant program and would receive only half of the grant funding for the following academic year. The bill requires a final vote to pass the House. [email protected]

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