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Receipts no longer a boon to ID thieves, says AG Cooper

Release date: 6/30/2005

Raleigh: Starting tomorrow identity thieves will have a harder time using credit card receipts to steal people’s personal financial information, Attorney General Roy Cooper reminded consumers today.

Under a law that takes effect July 1, businesses in North Carolina that use electronic credit card machines will not be allowed to print more than five digits of the card number on customers’ receipts.

“By deleting a few numbers from these receipts, we’re depriving criminals of an important way to steal your personal information and use it to commit fraud or identity theft,” said Cooper.

The law, approved by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2003, previously required any new credit card machine installed after February 2004 to print only the last five digits of a card number. Businesses have until tomorrow to make sure that all credit card equipment complies with the stricter standards.

The measure applies to credit card receipts given to customers. Merchants can continue to keep receipts with complete numbers and expiration dates for their own records. Businesses that break the law and print the full credit card number on consumers’ receipts could face penalties of up to $500 per violation but no more than $500 per month or $2,000 per year. Penalties can be waived if retailers bring their equipment into compliance within 30 days of being cited for a violation.

Local police and Sheriffs can enforce the law. Consumers who have questions about identity theft can also call Cooper’s consumer protection office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

Credit card truncation is one element of Cooper’s long-standing fight against identity theft. Cooper is currently pushing new legislation that will make it harder for identity thieves to get access to personal information and easier for consumers to protect themselves.

The Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005 (Senate Bill 1048/House Bill 1248) was introduced at Cooper’s request by Senator Dan Clodfelter and Representatives Bruce Goforth, Ronnie Sutton, Joe Kiser and Karen Ray. Both bills passed their respective chambers unanimously. Cooper today urged a House committee to pass the Senate version of the Identity Theft Protection Act.

To cut down on identity theft in North Carolina, the measure proposed by Cooper would:

  • Minimize the use of Social Security Numbers as identification numbers and restrict the sale and display of SSNs.

  • Give consumers the right to place a security “freeze” on their credit reports to block an identity thief from opening new accounts or obtaining credit in your name.

     

  • Require businesses to notify their customers if a security breach may have compromised their personal information and placed them at risk of identity theft.

     

  • Make sure that businesses that are disposing 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.

     

  • Prohibit state and local government agencies from unnecessarily collecting people’s Social Security Numbers, or from disclosing SSNs to the general public if the government has them.

     

“The best way to fight identity theft is to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on our personal information in the first place,” said Cooper. “Restricting the information that appears on credit card receipts will help, but we need this comprehensive new law to fight this fast-growing crime.”