Tuesday, March 03, 2009

New Iowa ID Theft Law

Iowa is proposing a new law to help victims of ID theft. On March 3, 2009 the Des Moines Register "Plan eases clearing of record in ID thefts" reported that
"If Iowans have their identity stolen and criminals who get hold of their identity rack up traffic convictions under the false name, it's very difficult for the victims to have their records cleared, officials said Monday. Transportation and courts officials would like to craft a new system that would make it easier for ID theft victims whose driving records are falsely marred to get the records corrected.

Even if the ID thief was convicted of just one speeding ticket in one county, the victim currently has to hire a lawyer and go before the courts in all 99 counties to get his or her record changed statewide, said Bill Brauch, director of the consumer protection division of the Iowa attorney general's office."
"That's just an extraordinarily difficult task to impose on someone who's a victim," Brauch said.

Senate Study Bill 1266 seeks to create a sort of "one-stop shop" at the Iowa Department of Transportation, said Elizabeth Baird, legislative liaison for the transportation department. Motor vehicle enforcement officials would investigate whether the fraud had occurred, then issue a decision. The victim could then take the decision to one court to have the record changed statewide, Brauch said.

Every year, hundreds of Iowans face ID theft problems in connection with stolen Social Security numbers, bank accounts, credit cards and other facets of their lives. The attorney general's office is currently working with two non-Iowans whose identities were stolen, Brauch said. Criminals used their Social Security numbers to get fake licenses, then got ticketed for traffic violations in Iowa, he said.

"It happens routinely," Brauch said. "I'm not saying there are hundreds of victims, but this happens enough that the Legislature needs to do something to streamline the process - but make sure people aren't trying to trick the system if they really do have a bad driving record."

The proposed bill would also change one word in the law about foreign nationals.

Foreign nationals under current law can get an Iowa driver's license for as long as they're legally in the country, for a maximum of two years, Baird said.

Transportation officials by law must "determine" whether the foreigner has the correct paperwork to be eligible for a license.

Officials want to change that to say they must "verify" that he or she has the proper paperwork, Baird said.

This is clearly a step in the right direction and other states must follow this example.


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