The North Carolina General Assembly has approved a bill that
would require local and state governments to take preventative measures to
combat identity theft in handling customers’ personal information.
The House gave final approval Monday, July 17, to the measure that
closes a loophole in a law enacted last year that required only businesses to
notify customers about data breaches. The bill – HB1248 – now heads to Gov.
Mike Easley’s desk.
Government agencies were excluded from last year’s version because the
emphasis was on changing business practices, the Charlotte Observer reported.
However, three of the past six publicly revealed breaches that
originated in the state have stemmed from public agencies, the newspaper
reported. A majority of the more than 200 breaches revealed nationwide since
2005 are from government agencies.
Rules requiring consumer notification of data security breaches are on
the books in 32 states. Government agencies are included in the protections in
21 of those states.
State law enacted a year ago restricts the sale and display of Social
Security numbers, and mandates companies to properly destroy information when
they throw it away.
This year’s bill would allow the Secretary of State’s Office to delay
until July 2007 removing Social Security numbers from an estimated 500,000
online records, the Observer reported.
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