Senate seeks ID safeguards

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

June 24, 2006

Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, has joined a legislative panel that is seeking to protect citizens from identity theft.

Metsger, who represents District 26, which includes Hood River County, was recently appointed to the Senate Interim Committee on Consumer Protection.

In addition to identity theft issues, he will work to stop price gouging during emergencies and predatory lending practices.

“As a member of the consumer protection committee, I’ll be in a position to keep these issues on the front burner,” said Metsger. “And I won’t rest until the Legislature has fulfilled its obligation to enact meaningful reforms.”

He believes that identity theft is the biggest challenge facing the senate committee. Metsger joins the law enforcement community in the contention that the growing number of forgery and fraud crimes is directly tied to the methamphetamine trade.

Last fall, Detective Ed Hewitt visited Hood River to share information with authorities on the scope of meth-related crimes. The nationally known expert from American Criminal Investigators Network said that one out of every 20 people is currently dealing with credit problems related to identity theft. He said that number is expected to climb to one in every five people within the next five years.

In 2005, Metsger and Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett, who serves District 52, which also includes Hood River County, co-sponsored House Bill 2412 that enabled Oregon citizens to “freeze” credit files if even suspected they might be a victim of identity theft. HB2412 granted individuals the right to prohibit any new credit accounts from being opened in their name until further notice.

Although the legislation died after credit agencies lobbied heavily against it, both Metsger and Smith are encouraged that Gov. Ted Kulongoski is now onboard with the proposal. “This bill puts people in control of their own credit and they should have that right,”said Metsger.

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