Friday, January 06, 2006

Identity Theft Prevention More States Enact Tough New Laws

Tougher laws protecting consumers from personal data
security breaches not being disclosed are now at
hand....at least in a handful of individual states.

Twelve states have credit-freeze legislation, which
allows residents to block new creditors from accessing
their credit reports and helps prevent identity
thieves from opening spending accounts using a stolen
name.

Credit-freeze laws in Connecticut, Illinois and New
Jersey were effective New Years Day, while Maine's law
will become effective February 1st and Colorado's on
July 1, 2006.

Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota,
and Nevada require companies to notify consumers in a
timely manner if sensitive financial information has
been stolen.

Connecticut's law hits even tougher. Residents there
can "freeze" their credit reports when they believe a
security breach has exposed their personal credit identity.

Plus, New Jersey and Virginia have banned public
disclosure of a person's social security number (SSN).

So, while Congress first promised, then back pedaled
in 2005, on enacting a national standard the individual states
have taken the lead with most modeling their base disclosure
law off the California statute which has been in effect since
2003.

That California law was the first in the nation which
required companies to notify state residents when
their unencrypted personal information was reasonably
thought to have been exposed.

Many in the media believe that landmark California law
was the catalyst behind all of the public disclosures
in 2005 tototalingver 50 million Americans' data
exposed or stolen from companies, medical facilities,
and universities or other public institutions.

Now more than 20 states have breach-notification laws,
but that still leaves over half of the nation without
any.

So, our tip for today is twofold:

  • First, take advantage of your legal rights to inspect
    or freeze your credit report along with your just as
    crucial non-credit records such as your public
    information profile (PIP) and driving records.
  • Two, use this free resource to find and contact your
    Congressmen
    to voice your concern for the need to
    enact a tough national, but complimentary to existing
    states' standard for all Americans to enjoy the same identity
    theft protection laws only available within a few states.

Note, article portions excerpted from the Christian
Science Monitor
and the Washington Times.

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