INDIANAPOLIS - Combating identity theft and fraud will be a major focus of three initiatives announced today by Andy Miller, Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) - a new BMV Fraud and Security Enforcement Division, a commitment to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and other federal regulations, and an annual Identity Theft and Fraud Symposium.
The Fraud and Security Enforcement Division will coordinate efforts by the BMV to address security and fraud. The division brings together the former Investigations and Security, Compliance and Internal Audit and other parts of the agency overseeing security and fraud. Monty Combs, who was BMV's Chief Financial Officer and is a former law enforcement officer, has been named the Deputy Commissioner to lead this new division.
Miller added "Establishing the new integrated Fraud and Security Enforcement Division allows us to bring all security-related responsibilities into one coordinated operation. With a singular focus on security, the division staff will proactively enhance security policies and procedures and be aggressive in investigating security breaches such as identity theft."
Miller made the announcement at the first BMV-sponsored Identity Theft and Fraud Symposium attended by representatives of federal, state and local law enforcement and public safety agencies.
In his opening remarks at the symposium, Miller affirmed BMV's commitment to implement fully the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and the federal regulations regarding identification documents. He noted that the Commission report specifically emphasized that "all but one of 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of U.S. identification document, some by fraud."
Miller continued, "There are over five million Hoosiers who have driver's licenses or ID cards issued by the BMV. These credentials are valuable personal identification documents that are used to board an aircraft, cash a check or perform many other business transactions. Because these credentials no longer just authorize someone to drive, but have much broader use, we must take all necessary steps to make them as secure as possible."
Miller cited a report from the Federal Trade Commission that identity theft has become the fastest growing crime in the nation. Crime statistics show that identity fraud cases increased by 22% from 2007 to 2008. The Identity Theft Resource Center calculates that there is some type of identity theft or fraud every two seconds in the United States.
In his welcome to the law enforcement officials and others attending the symposium, Miller said that the BMV staff thought there would be great value in bringing together federal, state and local law enforcement and other public safety agencies to discuss the latest developments in combating the rapidly growing crime of identity theft. He noted that the BMV often works with law enforcement agencies, the Attorney General's office and local prosecutors in investigating and solving identity theft cases.
Presenters at the first symposium were David Kane, Transportation Security Administration; Monte McKee, Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center; Sonja Kriegsmann, Indiana Banker's Association, and Chuck Taylor, Indiana Deputy Attorney General.
Miller reported that the new initiatives are enhancing the many steps taken by the BMV over the past three years to improve security and integrity of driver's licenses and ID cards. He specifically highlighted the following:
- New STARS computer system provided a single BMV database and computing capacity for multiple security process improvements.
- A new digital driver's license and ID card incorporated new printing technology and imbedded security features to make counterfeiting more difficult.
- The Social Security Online Verification process allowed the BMV to instantaneously compare a customer's personal data against the Social Security Administration database. In this process over 19,000 drivers' licenses were invalidated because name, Social Security number or date of birth could not be verified.
- Facial recognition technology now permits a comparison of a customer's photo against the BMV database of photos for duplication on other credentials.
Miller detailed six recent identity theft cases involving the BMV. He described the recent apprehension of David Grice who had successfully obtained six ID cards with different names. BMV's new facial recognition technology detected the duplicate licenses. All license branches were alerted and the man was identified when he attempted to obtain yet another license at the Crawfordsville license branch. He now awaits trial on seven felony counts.
"The national statistics and this most recent case here in Indiana are warnings that identity theft and fraud are serious matters with financial and personal impact on the victims and society as a whole," said Miller.
"As the 9/11 Commission reminded us, identity theft and fraud can threaten our national security. We will continue to explore ways to enhance the security of BMV-issued credentials that will result in new processes and procedures in the future."
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