Ohio speeds recovery for victims of identity theft

Ohio speeds recovery for victims of identity theft

Last year almost 10 million people were robbed of something more precious than gold: their identity.

Ohio is using technology to help victims restore their identities. Next month Ohio's state attorney general, working with the National Notary Association, will begin issuing biometric identification cards to help victims of identity theft recover quickly.

The Identity Theft Verification Passport program uses technology that the association has been using for about two years, said Richard Hansberger, the Chatsworth, Calif., group's director of technology.

The cards will be minted by Viisage of Billerica, Mass.

Each card will contain digital images of a victim's thumbprint, signature and photo, as well as biometric data such as signature pressure. The information is stored in a secure Ohio law enforcement database. If police officers stop someone claiming to be an identity theft victim, they can check the photo, thumbprint and signature against those stored in the database.

'It provides a rock-solid way of identifying this person,' Hansberger said.

The Ohio attorney general's office can use the Web-enabled Passport application to share crime reports and credit card statements with the Equifax credit bureau.

'The Passport program provides victims of identity theft a method of demonstrating to law enforcement and creditors that their identity has been stolen,' Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro said in a statement. 'It also helps victims begin the process of rehabilitating their credit history and identifying any fraudulent criminal charges.'

'Law enforcement can present this card to Equifax [Inc. of Atlanta, which compiles credit reporting data] and say, 'I've got John Doe in front of me,' and can proceed with the claim,' Hansberger said.

The Passport system uses the National Institute of Standards and Technology's digital law enforcement standards for fingerprints.

The card is only used after someone has been a victim of identity theft.

'At this time, we don't feel prevention is an appropriate use of this technology,' Hansberger said. 'This is all about recovery.'

The Passport cards verify that a report of identity theft has been filed with a law enforcement agency. It does not act as a form of ID for the holder.

The program is funded by a grant from the Justice Department.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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