ID theft protections OK'd in Arizona

| Monday, June 12, 2006

Gov. Janet Napolitano has signed two bills into law intended to protect consumers from identity theft.

The protections are being sought to help the state combat a plague of identity theft.

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

One new law, previously SB1338, requires companies to notify people affected by any breaches in security of unencrypted sensitive personal information. It also applies to government agencies.

The new law covers information identifying people’s driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, credit cards and financial accounts.

Violators will face up to a $10,000 fine for each individual who does not get proper notification. They also will be subject to civil proceedings.

Another identity theft protection measure, HB2484, signed by Napolitano, restricts how businesses dispose of paper records with confidential information about individuals.

Although two identity theft efforts have been signed into law, other protection measures brought before lawmakers this year are likely dead.

Among the bills that appear to be dead is a measure that is intended to help prevent the unwanted opening of an account or the obtaining of credit in a person’s name. The bill – SB1347 – would allow consumers to place security “freezes” on their credit that would block a credit report agency from releasing any information without the person’s permission.

Consumers could have the freeze put in place for $15. If they later want to apply for credit, they could have the freeze lifted for a fee of $15.

The bill, which the Senate unanimously approved in March, is in the House Rules Committee.

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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