ID Theft Passport Would Help Victims

MMVI CBS Television Stations, Inc – Jim Benemann
9/21/2006 – (CBS4) DENVER Colorado Attorney General John Suthers wants the State Legislature to pass new laws allowing authorities to issue the victims of identity theft special “passports” that would prove they are who they say they are.

Currently, victims of ID theft in Colorado must have prosecutors take their cases to criminal court. Victims must then ask for a court order that officially identifies them as a victim of ID theft.

“That in my opinion and in the opinion of most people is not adequate,” Suthers said. “We need something for people whose cases have not been prosecuted but are legitimately the victim of ID theft.”

Suthers is pushing for an identity theft passport program similar to one that is already being used in Ohio.

“It’s a program that I think tries to assist victims, people who have been seriously victimized and give them an opportunity to get back on their feet more quickly,” said Jim Petro, Ohio’s attorney general.

In Ohio, ID theft victims go to a local police station where detectives investigate a person’s proof of ID theft. Information is typed into a state database along with a digital picture, fingerprint and signature. The state then evaluates the application and issues an ID theft passport.

People like Maureen Mitchell in Ohio have found the program useful.

“The only thing I can equate it to is financial rape,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said she was having a hard time proving she was who she said she was after a woman stolen her identity and created a fake drivers’ license.

“They bought a Lincoln Navigator, they bought a Ford Expedition, they got cell phones, they got big screen TVs, they got jewelry, they got computers, they got all sorts of merchandise and took out new lines of credit pretending to be us,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell even lost her drivers’ license after the imposter created a fake one with Mitchell’s name. Mitchell was only able to prove her identity with a tattered letter from her local police chief.

Mitchell now is sure that she never leaves her home without the ID theft passport.

Suthers hopes to present the program to the Colorado State Legislature during the next session in January. He’d like the plan to be administered through local police departments.

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