Meth abuse is a persistent problem in the Pacific Northwest. And officials say meth addicts are to blame for another crime that’s on the rise: Identity theft.
A new law aimed at protecting Oregonians from ID thieves takes effect Monday. Salem correspondent Chris Lehman has more.
Drug users need money to feed their addiction. Officials say increasingly they’re getting that money by going after social security or credit card numbers.
Oregon State Senator Floyd Prozanksi says stealing personal info can be an attractive option.
Floyd Prozanski: “A lot of people that are in the business of theft realize that this is an easy way to do it without putting yourself in harm’s way. Because it’s done through paper, and it’s through electronics, and it’s not breaking into someone’s house per se.”
The Eugene Democrat was one of the chief backers of a law that passed unanimously this year. It’s meant to provide more tools to keep you from becoming an identify theft victim.
It allows you to place a freeze on your credit record. That would prevent thieves from opening new credit card accounts using your name.
The law also restricts how businesses can use your social security number. And it requires businesses that experience a security breach to quickly notify affected customers, though some companies have already been doing that. But Governor Ted Kulongoski says that’s one of the most important parts of the law.
Ted Kulongoski: “The faster a consumer knows their personal information has been stolen, the more opportunities they have to take precautions to ensure that information is not being used fraudulently.”
Oregon ranks 13th in the nation in identity theft. Washington checks in at number 9. Similar laws on identity theft have taken effect in Washington over the past two years.