State Sen. Jonathan Nichols announced he would file legislation to give Oklahomans greater protection against identity theft. Nichols, R-Norman, said his measure would allow consumers to freeze their credit files and give the State Attorney General jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute identity theft. Nichols said the bill would be called The Oklahoma Identity Theft Act, and noted it has the support of Attorney General Drew Edmondson.
Victims of identity theft can spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars trying to clear their name. A person's hard earned financial reputation can be destroyed by identity theft, Nichols said. The first part of my legislation is proactive in that it would make it more difficult for criminals to use a stolen identity to falsely obtain credit in the first place.
Under Nichols proposal, Oklahoma consumers would have the option of blocking access to their credit files, making them unavailable to anyone who doesnt have that individuals private PIN number. The criminal trying to obtain credit in that persons name would be rejected because the lender or business would be unable to check the credit history.
As of last July, there were 10 states which had laws allowing consumers to freeze their credit files and other states have been looking at it. Oklahoma has an opportunity to be out in front on this proactive consumer protection law, said Nichols.
A recent federal law gives consumers access to free annual credit reports. In addition, consumers can also subscribe to credit monitoring services. However, Nichols said this only enables consumers to find out theyve been the victim of identity theft after the fact.
My legislation would help stop identity theft before it occurred by preventing criminals from obtaining credit using a stolen identity and by blocking the credit bureaus from selling an individuals information.
Nichols said giving the attorney general the authority to investigate and prosecute identity theft would be particularly helpful to district attorneys who may welcome the additional resources the state can provide.
Both proposals have the backing of Attorney General Drew Edmondson.
Identity theft is a major consumer concern in Oklahoma and across the nation. Its victims come from every segment of society; rich, poor, young, old and everyone in between. Its perpetrators can be family, friends or strangers. As the criminals who commit this crime become more sophisticated, so must our statutes. I applaud Senator Nichols efforts to protect the people of Oklahoma from this crime, Edmondson said.