From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: David Quin or Kelvin Bass
(512) 463-0123
April 3, 2003

Senator West's bill on misused identity will provide relief for victims

AUSTIN - State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) on a unanimous vote, passed a bill through the Texas Senate that takes a unique approach to the problem of stolen identity. Senate Bill 566 will give a person who has had their identity used several ways to help clear their name. It is only by chance that a person may discover that their identifying information has been used by someone who has violated the law.

"This bill if passed into law will provide much needed assistance to innocent persons who may have unwittingly been victimized by someone who has committed a crime," said Senator West. "Currently under Texas law, a person has few ways of discovering that another person has given his or her name to police and that they may, subsequently, have criminal violations attached to their name. If approached by law enforcement, chances are that an innocent person will go to jail. This bill can prevent that from happening."

Under Senate Bill 566, once the true identity of the person arrested has been established, authorities are to make the attempt to notify the person whose identity has been falsely used. Once contacted, law enforcement will inform the victim on how to have their records cleared.

In addition, an application process has been created to help victims clear false information from their records without costly legal fees. Victims of misused identity will also be able to contact the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to set up a code that can be given to police if approached. The code will establish that its bearer is not the person responsible for the offenses in question.

"I have heard stories from persons who have found criminal information under their names while they were engaged in a job search. Given the current climate, a person's criminal history raises a red flag for potential employers," said Senator West. "To be denied employment based on faulty criminal history information makes an innocent person a victim once more."

Another component of Senate Bill 566 requires DPS to contact The Texas Department of Criminal Justice if the true identity of a person who gave false information at the time of arrest is determined. If that person is in custody or on probation, records containing false information are to be corrected.

For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass at 512-463-0123 or 214-467-0123.