January 28, 2008

ATLANTA –  Governor Sonny Perdue announced today the filing of legislation to establish an identity theft task force within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).  This legislation is being carried by Senator Joseph Carter (R – Tifton).

“Today I have a message for identity thieves in Georgia:  Your number is up,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.  “With this legislation, we are ensuring that Georgia’s identity theft laws are backed by the full force of the GBI and that identity thieves will be brought to justice.”

Governor Perdue’s legislation would establish a dedicated identity theft task force within the Investigative Division of the GBI.  Governor Perdue included $1 million in his budget proposal to fund this initiative.  This task force will combat identity theft on several fronts including investigating alleged identity theft, educating the public, supporting victims and training local law enforcement in combating identity theft. 

"The General Assembly looks forward to supporting the GBI as they work to protect Georgia’s citizens and businesses from the scourge of identity theft," said Senator Carter. "I have full confidence that the GBI will take this new duty on and produce the kind of results the people of this state deserve."

Identity theft cost Georgia’s citizens and businesses more than $25 million in 2006.  From 2002 to 2006, there were more than 34,000 reports of identity theft in Georgia filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Georgia is ranked 7th in the nation in incidents of identity theft per capita. 

The GBI has a proven track record of combating crimes that plague Georgia’s citizens.  In recent past, the Governor has charged GBI with aggressively combating methamphetamines and predators who prey on Georgia’s children via the internet.  Since the launch of the methamphetamine task force, total drug seizures have increased from $7.6 million in 2005 to over $32 million year to date in 2008.  Governor Perdue’s child safety initiative (CSI Georgia) was launched to provide more GBI agents to investigate crimes against children committed by internet predators.  The GBI’s High Technology Investigations Unit caseload increased 57 percent in 2007 compared to 2006.      

Currently, the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs is charged with investigating identity theft.  This legislation would transfer that statutory authority to the GBI.