ID theft protections sought in Arizona

| 12/27/2005

Arizona lawmakers are pursuing new protections to help the state combat a plague of identity theft by requiring businesses to do more to protect customers and clients.

The state and the Phoenix area have the highest per-capita rates of identity-theft related complaints among states and large metropolitan areas nationwide, The Associated Press reported.

To protect consumers, a group of lawmakers have prefiled legislation that would make the crime harder to commit, toughen the punishment and help victims who lose privacy and money – with more measures in the works.

One effort offered by Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa, would mandate that companies destroy or otherwise protect a customer’s personal information. A separate effort from Gray would require businesses to notify people whose personal information could be affected by security breaches when they occur.

Rules requiring consumer notification of data security breaches are on the books in at least 20 states. Among the states with new identity theft rules approved this year are Alabama , Connecticut , New Jersey , New York and North Carolina .

Sen. Marilyn Jarrett, R-Mesa, sponsored her own bill that would mandate jail or prison time for offenders.

In addition, Sen. Bill Brotherton, D-Phoenix, is working with Gov. Janet Napolitano on legislation that would let victims go to court to ask for an order clearing their credit records and have prosecutors submit information on identity theft cases to credit bureaus, the Tucson Citizen reported.

The bills will be considered in the legislative session that begins next month.