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We are living in a post-9/11 world. Many people in the world would like to believe that America should only be fighting those responsible for the events of September 11. The rules have changed. America has a growing problem in both immigration and identity theft, and the events showed that drastic measures need to be taken in order to prevent a similar attack. There have been several laws written addressing the problems with identity theft. Many believe that we should grant amnesty to people who are in America Illegally. Herein lies the problem. People in this country illegally have broken several laws. One of which is gaining identification in order to stay in the country. Should law abiding citizens be forced to pay the price for those who choose to break the law, or should people who knowingly break the law pay for their crimes? Again, those who feel that undocumented aliens have not done anything wrong but are merely victims of an antiquated system are not looking at the big picture. There is a great deal more to consider than just crossing the border to do jobs that ordinary Americans refuse to do. Primarily, people need to acquire identification once they are here, and that means stealing identification. Lawmakers write more laws to address and prevent recurring identity theft issues, but if they would allow local, state, and federal authorities to do their jobs we could cut down the Immigration problem. Granted, illegal immigration is a federal issue, and with an estimated 11 million in this country illegally, it is impossible for federal authorities to do the job alone. If laws were enforced at the local and state levels, people would begin to see that America is serious about the growing problem. The only result of writing new laws is confusion. Lawmakers are writing more laws, making it more difficult for authorities at every level to enforce laws that are currently on the books. The driver’s license has been the primary form of identification in America, and some states, such as Illinois, issue a temporary visitor driver’s license “for non-citizens of the United States who have been granted temporary, legal entry into this country and are temporarily residing in the State of Illinois and ineligible for a Social Security number.” Since the driver’s license is the primary form of identification, non-citizens can be granted government services normally reserved for American citizens.
Indiana has chosen to address the driver’s license issue. Anybody obtaining a license for the first time or drivers renewing a license will need to produce additional proof of identity, other than the driver’s license, as well as proof of citizenship. In addition, nobody will receive a new license or ID card at the BMV, but will be issued a temporary permit, or 14-day extension, and will receive the new license or ID card in the mail within 10 days. According to BMV Commissioner Andy Miller, "Identity theft and fraud is the fastest-growing crime in the United States, and government-issued documents like our driver’s licenses and ID cards are targets for people who commit these crimes. In fact, the BMV today has over 500 cases of identity theft or fraud." That equals one of every one hundred licensed drivers in Indiana is a victim of identity fraud.
The people of Indiana who are applying for a Driver’s License or ID card renewal now are required to prove Identity (other than a current, valid driver’s license) with a Social Security Card, even though many government facilities and agencies require a social security card for valid identification; however, the phrase printed on the card reads, “Not intended for identification purposes.” In addition, people need to prove residency with a current utility bill as well as citizenship. Of course, in many cases current names will not match the name on the birth certificate.
People in the state have differing views on the matter. It is believed that people who have not had their identity stolen yet or people who do not have the proper documentation and probably should not be here anyway would be against this. On the other hand, we should consider people who legally have had their names changed due to marriage, divorce, or any other reason.
Why all of the changes, and why now? According to officials in Indiana government, there are over 5.5 million active driver’s licenses and identification cards in Indiana, with more than one million renewed or updated each year through the Indiana BMV. These documents are important personal identification credentials used in many business and government transactions where government-issued photo identification is required. The trouble is that when the use value of these documents increases, there is a significant increase in attempts to produce these items fraudulently. Statistics show that identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission states that identity theft was the most reported consumer complaint in 2008. During the last year, there were 9.9 million identity theft/fraud cases – a 22% increase over 2007. The Identity Theft Resource Center calculated that identity theft or fraud occurs every two seconds in the United States. In Indiana, the BMV Fraud and Security Enforcement Division receives an average of nearly six cases of suspected fraud each day. From January through the end of June, the division has investigated over 1,045 cases, closing 387 of them.
These changes are not the first for the state. In June of 2007 a new digital License and ID card was introduced that included imbedded security features to deter counterfeiting. BMV branches also begin electronically imaging all customer documents to assist law enforcement agencies with fraud investigations. In November of 2007 Social Security Online Verification (SSOLV) was implemented to provide direct link to the Social Security Administration database for verification of the Social Security number, name and date of birth of an applicant for a driver’s license, identification card or vehicle title. All customers’ Social Security numbers were checked against the database. Over 19,000 credentials were invalidated because the information in the BMV records could not be verified. In November of 2008, facial recognition technology was activated at all BMV license branches. The technology compares the current photograph with the complete BMV photo database to identify possible attempts at identity theft, such as multiple names with the same photo. This meant that people were no longer allowed to smile in ID pictures. In May of 2009 the BMV Fraud and Security Enforcement Division was created. The division coordinates efforts by the BMV to address security and fraud and brings together the former Investigations and Security, Compliance and Internal Audit and other parts of the agency overseeing security and fraud.
Identity theft has become one the toughest crimes to prosecute because it is difficult to prove. The ease of access to private, personal information has made the crime easier to commit. Perhaps the state and federal governments should concentrate on writing laws that address how identity theft is committed and do what is necessary to prevent it in the first place. Instead, legislatures are being forced to write laws that address the aftermath of identity fraud.
It is not enough that we are no longer allowed to smile in our license and ID pictures, but we now are required to prove our identity, our residency, and our citizenship; regardless of whether or not we have had any identity theft issues, how long we have had a license or ID card, or how long we have lived in the state. Not to mention how long we have been citizens or what we have done to protect those laws that the state continues to rewrite in the name of public safety? Enough is enough. Let us see how the new changes that are in effect work before we implement more changes that will just confuse everyone involved.
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Getting a license will take longer; renewing one will require documents