Senate seeks ID safeguards


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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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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