Gov. M. Jodi Rell has signed a bill into law allowing consumers in
Connecticut to “freeze” their credit from identity thieves.
The new law, previously SB650, permits consumers to limit credit report
access to existing creditors. The freeze allows consumers to authorize future
release of their credit report to only those creditors specified by the
consumer, New Haven’s WTNH-TV reported.
It also requires businesses to immediately notify consumers when their
personal financial information is compromised.
“Identity theft has become an epidemic in the
U.S. that ruins the credit records of countless consumers every year,” Susanna
Montezemolo, policy analyst with Consumers Union’s Financial Privacy Now
campaign, said in a written statement.
“Connecticut’s new law will help ensure that
consumers are made aware when a company’s lax security puts them at risk of
identity theft and gives them the power to stop crooks from opening new lines
of credit in their names.”
A security freeze enables consumers to
prevent anyone from looking at their own credit-reporting file for purposes of
granting credit unless the consumer chooses to let that particular business
view the information.
It is intended to give consumers complete
control over who has access to the information needed to process a credit
application and prevent crooks from opening new accounts in the consumer’s
name. When consumers apply for credit, the security freeze can be lifted
temporarily so the application can be processed.
The cost to consumers to put a security
freeze on their credit file is $10. To temporarily lift the freeze, consumers
would pay the same amount.
Similar freeze laws are on the books in
California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and Washington
Connecticut’s new rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2006.
To help prevent identity theft, authorities
warn consumers should look out for their own interests by reading their credit
card statements, reviewing their credit report once a year, and destroying
unwanted credit card offers.
If you think you’ve been a victim of identity
theft, you are encouraged to file a police report and a complaint with the
state attorney general’s office.