After unanimous legislative approval, State Sen. Mike Johnson said he was pleased that Gov. Brad Henry has signed a bill to help protect victims of identity theft. Johnson, R-Kingfisher, is principal author of Senate Bill 1164 which creates an “Identity Theft Passport” to protect innocent victims from arrest or other legal actions.
“While the digital age provides many benefits, it also has a dark side in the form of identity theft. Oklahoma is now one of the first states to address the nightmare identity theft victims go through when they’re falsely accused,” Johnson said.
Senator Johnson said he wrote SB 1164 after hearing from a constituent who had been a victim of identity theft. After her purse was stolen, the thief used the contents to set up credit card accounts in her name. The victim notified all the companies and the necessary state and federal agencies. But to her horror, two years later she was arrested on a warrant out of Florida for credit card fraud.
Cashion resident Danielle Robertson spent 18 hours in jail before being released. Robertson said when she was put in jail, she was in shock.
“Something this terrible had been done to me and I was going to be punished for it. There was nothing I could do about it,” Robertson said.
After being released, she was told that the same thing could happen again. Fearful of the threat of another arrest, Robertson contacted Senator Johnson and asked if there was anything he could do. After researching the situation, he authored the legislation creating an identity theft passport.
“This measure will give identity theft victims greater protection from arrest or other legal actions as a result of crimes committed by the person who assumed their identity,” Johnson said. “While much of the identity theft legislation we’ve seen in the past has targeted the criminal, this bill was written to provide some aid to the victims.”
The new law, which was co-authored by Rep. Susan Winchester, R-Chickasha, calls for the creation of a special passport for victims of identity theft to use with law enforcement and other public safety authorities.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) will administer the Oklahoma Identity Theft Passport Program.
In order to qualify for the passport, the victim must file an identity theft report with a federal, state or local law enforcement agency and provide the report, an identity theft affidavit and supporting documentation to a consumer reporting agency.
Danielle Robertson said she was pleased to find out that contacting her state senator made a difference.
“I think it’s great. A lot of people think that one person can’t make a difference and that it doesn’t matter if you talk to your government officials, but I figured someone would help me. I wrote letters to everyone I could. Senator Johnson was great. I’m thankful that he helped me out and actually did something about it,” Robertson said.
Senator Johnson said he appreciated Danielle sharing her story and wanted to make sure Oklahomans knew that this legislation had been signed into law. Johnson also hoped to see Danielle become the first person to obtain an identity theft passport.