Connecticut adopts new ID theft protection law

| Wednesday, August 17, 2005

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 state.

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.

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