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LEGIT Task Force

LEGIT stands for Washington’s Law Enforcement Group Against Identity Theft.  It is a statewide group of legislators, police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, business and financial industry security professionals and private sector associations working together to reduce identity theft in Washington.  The group is chaired by Attorney General Rob McKenna and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Susan Storey previously chaired the task force.

Attorney General Rob McKenna created LEGIT in 2006 to help find ways to motivate public and private sector organizations to reduce the risk of identity theft by use of personal and financial data held by them, and to encourage better investigation and prosecution of identity theft crimes. The group sprung from the Attorney General’s Statewide Identity Theft Summit, which brought together more than 300 leaders from the public and private sectors in November 2005 to discuss how to tackle what has become the fastest-growing crime in the United States.

LEGIT has initiated many important efforts:

LEGISLATION

  • LEGIT members were influential in drafting a bill to amend Washington’s Fair Credit Reporting Act to allow the availability of a credit freeze to all Washington consumers. The law took effect September 2008 and allows anyone age 65 or older to freeze access to their credit files for free. It also permits consumers to provide temporary access to a frozen credit file within 15 minutes.
  • The Attorney General’s Office requested three bills for the 2008 legislative session to assist in the investigation and prosecution of identity theft cases. These bills, based on recommendations from LEGIT:
    • Created a statutory requirement for police to take police reports from victims of the crime.  The bill would not require investigation by police but only requires the report be taken. Victims have the option to file a report in their local jurisdiction or with the agency where the crime occurred.
    • Allow prosecutors to bring separate charges against an accused identity thief for each use of a particular piece of someone’s personal information.
    • Allow records provided by out-of-state businesses to be authenticated by affidavit, rather than in person, in criminal cases.

EDUCATION AND COORDINATION

  • In 2007, LEGIT teamed up with federal and county prosecutors to train Washington’s law enforcement in the effective investigation of identity theft crimes.
  • In 2008, LEGIT sponsored two multi-day training sessions for the state’s prosecutors, emphasizing tools and techniques for bringing identity thieves to justice.

RISK REDUCTION

  • LEGIT conducted the first statewide Shred-a-thon on April 28, 2007. The hugely successful identity theft prevention campaign included simultaneous shred events at 29 locations and attracted 6,000 Washington residents. Consumers and small businesses were invited to bring sensitive documents to be destroyed at no charge by commercial shred trucks, which donated their services. Representatives from local law enforcement, the state Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Federal Trade Commission, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, County and Federal Prosecutor’s Offices, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations and businesses blanketed the state to help educate the public about reducing their risk of becoming identity theft victims. Legislators also dropped by several locations to show their support.  At LEGIT's request, Governor Gregoire declared April 28, 2007, as "Identity Theft Awareness and Prevention Day."
  • LEGIT sent letters to 5,000 Washington businesses and 800 city and county executives across the state urging them to review how their organizations store and manage sensitive identity information and to tighten procedures. Governor Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna sent similar letters to state agencies in early 2007.
  • LEGIT is working closely with legislators on efforts to increase the security of consumer credit card numbers.
  • LEGIT continues to monitor and respond to concerns about how public and private sector organizations store, manage and dispose of employee, customer, and citizen identity and financial information.
  • Due in part to encouragement from LEGIT, Washington State’s Department of Licensing  implemented enhanced background checks on potential department employees. The agency’s Drivers Special Investigations unit is working to expand procedures  to “flag” identity theft victims and is developing a program to assist victims.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

  • LEGIT works closely with legislators and law enforcement to enhance multi-jurisdictional efforts to identify, capture and bring identity thieves to justice. Members teamed up with local and federal law enforcement and prosecutors in numerous successful efforts to bring identity thieves to justice.

CONTINUED WORK

  • LEGIT sponsored a summit in SeaTac on Oct. 22, 2008, to discuss current identity theft trends and brainstorm ideas for improved coordination, new legislation and victim assistance strategies.
  • LEGIT released its 2010 executive report with strategic goals, including recommendations for legislation.
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