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Digital Fingerprinting Will Speed Agent Applications, Screen out Felons

8/8/2002

TALLAHASSEE - New digital fingerprinting technology will speed up the process of applying for a Florida insurance agent's license, save money and better protect consumers, Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher said today. The upgrade is effective today.

State regulators will now be able to detect applicants with criminal records almost immediately, Gallagher said, instead of the old method of issuing a license and having to revoke it if the applicant is later found to have a felony on his or her record. By upgrading its fingerprinting technology from paper forms to digital computer files, the Department of Insurance will drastically cut the time needed to mail applicants' prints to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Until now, we've had to wait 90 to 180 days for paper fingerprints to be processed and returned," Gallagher said. "But with digital prints, the department will know if an applicant has a criminal record within three days. Along with providing better and faster services to applicants, the public will be better protected."

The digital technology is provided by Lockheed Martin Information Systems. The equipment and maintenance are being provided at no cost to the state. Lockheed - which has also built fingerprint ID systems for military and law enforcement agencies - will process the fingerprints of an estimated 250,000 applicants for state education and insurance jobs annually. Approximately 25,000 state residents apply to become insurance agents each year.

The new fingerprinting technology is located at county school boards statewide and costs $52 per application, as opposed to $64 for paper fingerprinting. Moreover, the new system does not permit the submission of illegible fingerprints; the digital technology identifies poor images and provides for a rescan immediately.

Candidates for licensure may submit online applications to the Department of Insurance at www.fldfs.com. The licensing system can be accessed daily from 5:00 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. For more information, contact the Bureau of Agent and Agency Licensing at (850) 413-3137, ext. 1101.