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House committee approves bill to protect public employees from ID theft

(OLYMPIA)- The House Government Operations and Elections Committee approved a bill today that would exempt public employees’ driver’s license numbers and identicard numbers from being released for public inspection and copying.

Prime sponsor of House Bill 2376, Rep. Dave Hayes, said public employees are at risk of becoming victims of identity theft because much of their personal information can be openly released through the state’s Public Records Act.

According to the Washington Attorney General’s Office, as many as one in five Washingtonians become victims of identity theft annually.  Victims lose an average of $17,000 while their credit ratings are destroyed.  And Washington ranks 17th in the nation per capita for ID theft.

Certain information is already exempt from public records requests, such as the residential addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, emergency contact information and Social Security numbers of public employees.  The bill would expand that to prevent disclosure of driver’s license numbers and identicard numbers.

The measure now goes to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.