Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America with the Federal Trade Commission reporting that over tem million people were victimized last year. Besides the fraudulent and criminal activities that identity thieves can commit once they have your personal identifiers, they can ruin your credit and cost you time and money to repair the damage with retailers, collection agencies, banks, and police departments.
Since becoming victims of identity theft themselves in 1988, Bob and JoAnn Hartles have worked tirelessly to prevent others in the community, and indeed the nation, from becoming victims of this crime. The Hartles took the initiative to work with the Arizona lawmakers to get the first identity theft law passed in 1996 and again to work with Senator Jon Kyl and me to get the federal Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 passed.
After working to get states and federal identity theft laws passed, the Hartles have continued to offer their free assistance to victims in straightening out the credit problems that follow in the wake of this crime. They have counseled over 3,000 victims thus far and have held hundreds of free seminars and classes for neighborhoods, businesses, colleges, and law enforcement agencies on how to minimize their risk of becoming victims and what to do if they do get victimized. They not only have maintained their ongoing outreach program to members of our community, but they have provided their assistance to individuals around the state and nation to those who have been able to get assistance from city, county, or state agencies.
The Hartles have had a continuing impact on legislative activity at the state and federal level as additional identity theft laws have been passed since 1998. I think Bob and JoAnn are unique in that they have sacrificed so much of their personal time without any compensation whatsoever, without any staff or organization, without any financial assistance from government or private grants, and without concern for personal advancement or aggrandizement. They simply shine as a point of light for all to see.