Bill to protect ID theft victims advances in New Jersey

| 11/21/2006

A New Jersey Assembly panel has approved a bill that would make it illegal for creditors to deny credit to people solely because they were a victim of identity theft.

The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee voted to send the measure to the full Assembly for further consideration. If approved there, the bill - S1643 - would head to Gov. Jon Corzine's desk. The Senate unanimously approved the bill this summer.

Violators would face penalties of $5,000 for every proven incident of credit denial to a victim of identity theft.

"The scourge of identity theft shouldn't be allowed to inflict further damage to victims by subjecting them to bad credit ratings," Sen. Nia Gill, D-Essex, said in a written statement.

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.