New ID theft law starts this week
Release date: 11/28/2005
Law to reduce use of SSNs, give consumers the right to freeze their credit
Raleigh: Starting December 1, North Carolinians will have more protection from identity theft thanks to one of the most comprehensive laws in the country, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“We’re fighting this fast-growing crime by giving people more ways to protect themselves from identity theft, and by making it harder for criminals to get their hands on your information in the first place,” said Cooper.
Cooper shared information about the new law with consumers at a “Shred-a-thon” today in Raleigh. Cooper’s office invited consumers to protect themselves from identity theft by shredding their pre-approved credit card offers, old bills and other documents that include personal identifying information.
Cooper today urged North Carolinians to consider taking advantage of new protections offered included in the law he fought for by placing a security freeze on their credit report. “By freezing your credit, you can block an identity thief from opening an account or getting credit in your name,” Cooper said.
Consumers can freeze their credit report by sending a certified letter and $10 to each of the three credit bureaus. Cooper’s office has issued a tip sheet available at www.ncdoj.gov that includes detailed instructions on how to request a security freeze, including a sample request letter that consumers can use.
The new law, the Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005 (Senate Bill 1048), was pushed by Cooper and signed into law by Governor Mike Easley this fall following approval by the General Assembly.
In addition to giving consumers the option to freeze their credit, the new law will cut down on identity theft by:
Minimizing the use of Social Security Numbers as identification numbers and restricting the sale and display of SSNs.
Making sure that businesses that dispose of personal identifying information about their customers destroy or shred those records, so that identity thieves can’t retrieve information from discarded files that have been carelessly thrown away.
Requiring businesses to notify their customers if a security breach may have compromised their personal information and placed them at risk of identity theft.
Prohibiting state and local government agencies from unnecessarily collecting people’s Social Security Numbers, or from disclosing SSNs to the general public if it is necessary to collect them.
Identity theft occurs when a consumer’s personal information is stolen and used to commit financial fraud. Approximately 300,000 North Carolinians have their identity stolen each year, and identity theft costs businesses $50 billion dollars annually.
This comprehensive new law marks the latest attack against identity theft by Cooper, who first launched his campaign against this fast-growing crime two years ago. His efforts have been praised by the Federal Trade Commission as a national model. To learn more about identity theft and steps consumers can take to protect themselves, visit www.ncdoj.gov .