State lawmakers consider 'passport' for victims of identity theft

Think of the ID theft passport several state legislators want to provide for constituents as a get out of jail free card--it's a way to provide proof that you're the victim and not the crook.

The plan is for Minnesotans who have been the victim of identity theft to show a card of some sort to police or creditors to prove that any crimes or fraudulent charges were committed by someone else, and not the cardholder. Several states already have these passports, though the exact form they would take is yet to be decided.

"Maybe it's something like a driver's license with an emblem on it, state Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, said. "But it has some biometric so that if you go to a bank you can scan the barcode, your face will come up and that way you can say, 'Hey, it's me.'"

These efforts come on the heels of several high-profile scandals that breached the personal information of millions of Americans, including the announcement last month that credit reporting agency Equifax had sustained the largest hack in history--putting the data of more than 145 million people at risk.

A lot of that data is unchangeable--social security numbers, birthdays, etc--and hackers can hang onto the information for years before using it. 

"By then the free credit monitoring has expired and people have kind of moved on with their lives," Dan Hendrickson of the Better Business Bureau said. "At that point the thieves can do what they do, such as opening accounts and causing problems for people."   

In light of recent events, experts also say it's more important than ever to be checking your bills regularly and reporting strange transactions.