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Governor beefs up ID theft law – QNS.com

Governor beefs up ID theft law

Victims of identity theft face a long road back to normalcy. Repairing one’s credit - and one’s life - can take months, even years.
In light of this, Governor David Paterson has introduced legislation that would strengthen New York State’s identity theft laws by protecting individuals from the misuse of their personal information.
The bill would restrict the ability of employers to use an employee’s personal information, including prohibiting employers from posting or displaying more than the last four digits of an employee’s social security number, or placing social security numbers in files with open access. The legislation authorizes New York residents to protect their personal data by having their names placed on an “exclusion list” maintained by information brokers. It also outlaws the possession of “skimmer” devices — which can obtain personal identifying information from credit cards — under circumstances where there is intent to use the device to commit identity theft.
“The consequences of identity theft can be devastating and far-reaching,” said Paterson. “This legislation recognizes the new risks facing consumers today and puts a number of critical safeguards in place to help the people of New York State protect their credit and their good names.”
If one were to have his identity stolen, under the new legislation, he can seek assistance from the Consumer Protection Board’s (CPB) Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program. The program will serve to assist victims in undoing the damage that the identity thief has done to their financial and credit history.
The bill strengthens aspects of the security freeze law (a 2006 law that gives consumers the choice to “freeze” or lock access to their credit file against anyone trying to open up a new account or to get new credit in their name) and extends important confidentiality protections to public entities to prevent the intentional communication of social security numbers to the public.
Finally, the bill enables victims of identity theft to obtain restitution for the value of the time they spend fixing the damage that the criminal has inflicted.
According to one study, identity theft victims spent 330 hours in addressing the damage caused by the identity thief. For the first time, these victims will be able to be compensated for their lost time.
In 2007, the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ranked New York sixth in the country in per capita identity theft complaints.
“Identity theft is an assault on a victim’s good name,” said Mindy A. Bockstein, Chairperson and Executive Director of the NYS Consumer Protection Board (CPB).
“With tactics like dumpster
diving, phishing, pretexting and skimming continuing to threaten us, consumers deserve swift and concrete action. This bill will go a long way toward safeguarding our sensitive information, which is too readily available in the public domain, and gives us back a measure of control.”

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