Identity theft protections advance in Oklahoma

| 4/4/2006

The Oklahoma House unanimously approved a bill intended to help prevent identity theft.

Sponsored by Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, the bill would allow consumers in Oklahoma to place security “freezes” on their credit information. Once a freeze is in place, consumer reporting agencies would be required to notify consumers anytime a third party attempted to access credit reports.

“Why should third parties have access to information that should be confidential? Such loosely regulated provisions within the credit industry are what have led to recent increase in identity thefts in the first place,” Balkman said in a written statement.

Consumers would not be charged to have a freeze placed on their credit reports. Once consumers rescind the freeze, they would be required to pay up to $10 for a second and subsequent request.

The measure also would require that if a security breach occurs, a notice would be sent to the individual whose personal information may have been stolen.

Rules requiring consumer notification of data security breaches are on the books in at least 15 states. Among the states with new identity theft rules approved within the past year are Alabama, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.

Another bill moving through the Oklahoma Legislature also would let consumers freeze their credit reports.

Sponsored by Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, the bill includes a provision that would prohibit the sale of private cell phone records.

“I think many citizens would be horrified to learn that for less than a hundred dollars, anyone with your name and cell phone number can buy records of your last 100 incoming and outgoing calls,” Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, said in a written statement. “This bill will put a stop to the purchase of those records.”

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.

Balkman’s bill – HB2761 – has moved to the Senate for further consideration. Bass’ bill – SB1748 – won unanimous consent in the Senate and has been sent to the House.