Hodges University recently announced the establishment of an Identity Fraud Institute. The Identity Fraud Institute, which is research and education focused, will serve as the central hub for all identity theft and fraud related information in and throughout the state of Florida, as well as provide victim assistance programs.
The Identity Fraud Institute includes a research center that will involve a network of local banks and members of the retail, medical and other industries who will learn, share and collaborate on key topics. Participants will report tips, trends and other related information. Notices will be shared through the institute with local law enforcement and businesses, benefitting the local market and its residents.
Citizen education will also be a prominent component of the institute. In development is a program that will certify participants as identity theft advisors, giving them an opportunity to also help other victims. Another goal of the Identity Fraud Institute is to host a national conference, tentatively planned for September 2016, on identity theft and fraud.
Carrie Kerskie, Director of the Identity Fraud Institute, said that for seven years, Florida has ranked first in the nation in identity fraud complaints; Naples ranked fifth nationwide.
“Coupled with the research and education component, Kerskie said, “Hodges University is the perfect fit for the institute.”
Kerskie partnered with State Representative Kathleen Passidomo and State Senator Garrett Richter to get FL – HB157 passed. It was passed unanimously by the Florida House and Senate with support of Senator Richter. Prior to being signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on June 16, 2015, business identity theft was not a crime in Florida.
“HB157 was the result of a collaborative effort of the members of the Collier County Identity Theft Task Force which brought to my attention their concerns that Florida’s laws pertaining to fraud and identity theft were outdated and archaic,” said Representative Passidomo.
Passidermo said the law previously only focused on the crime and penalties, but did not provide a way for victims to restore their identities or adequate identity protection for businesses.
Passidermo said “We created a significant piece of legislation that protects all Florida businesses from identity theft; sets up a process for a victim to obtain documentation regarding a fraudulent transaction to aid them in restoration of their rights; authorizes the court to issue orders to correct a public record that contains false information; increases penalties for medical identity theft and makes it a crime to knowingly provide false information that becomes a public record.”
The Identity Fraud Institute inaugural luncheon will be held on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Hodges University Naples campus. Speakers will include Sheriff Kevin Rambosk of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Representative Kathleen Passidermo of the Florida House of Representatives, District 106, Senator Richter of the Florida Senate, District 23, as well as Congressional Aide Enrique Padron from the Office of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida 25th Congressional District.
A list of workshops to raise awareness in the Southwest Florida community will be announced as well. For sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets, please visit hodges.edu/identity or call (239) 513-1122.
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