Today's Question: New measures to prevent identity theft

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | 1:26 p.m. CDT; updated 7:47 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 23, 2009

Missouri is considering new identity theft measures that could protect residents from having their identities stolen. One proposal, which passed in the Senate and is awaiting action in the House, would require companies to notify individuals when their personal information has been compromised. Missouri is one of only six states that does not require such notification.

One of the sponsors of the measure, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said there was originally some opposition to the bill from banks that were concerned about incurring undue costs in the notification process but added that the issue has been resolved.

Two other approaches to protecting individual information have made little progress in the General Assembly and remain stagnant in committee. One proposal, which is being considered in the House and Senate, would remove Social Security numbers and other personal information from public court records in divorce and child custody cases. This would prevent individuals from stealing private information from public records.

Those opposed to the proposal argue it is overly complicated and costly. Removing that information from the records could create additional work for county clerk’s offices that are already understaffed and could potentially cost federal money during a budget crunch.

Another bill being considered would require a customer’s consent for the release of personal financial information. Some companies sell that information without the customer’s consent.

Which of these bills would offer the best solution for identity theft? Which, if any, of the bills should the House pass?

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