North Carolina Department of Justice
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AG Cooper urges security breach victims to take action

Release date: 1/16/2007

Consumers can take simple steps to thwart ID thieves, Cooper says

Raleigh: North Carolinians who get word that their information could be at risk because of a security breach need to take steps to protect themselves, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.

“We pushed for laws that require government and businesses to notify consumers when a security breach puts them at risk of identity theft,” said Cooper. “Consumers who get one of these notices can act fast to protect their good names.”

A security breach happens when data or records containing personal information such as Social Security Numbers or bank account numbers are lost or stolen.

Under North Carolina laws pushed by Cooper, state and local government as well as businesses must notify consumers if a security breach may have compromised their personal information and potentially placed them at greater risk of identity theft.

An NC Department of Revenue laptop containing information about approximately 26,000 consumers and 7,700 businesses was stolen last month. As required by law, the Department last week notified Cooper’s office and sent letters out to people affected by the breach.

Consumers who get word that their information may have been compromised should notify the three credit bureaus, consider placing a freeze on their credit, and continue checking their credit frequently, Cooper said. Cooper has launched an ID theft education initiative with additional tips for consumers including tips related to security breaches available at www.ncdoj.gov.

“An identity thief needs just a few pieces of information to pretend to be you and ruin your credit,” said Cooper. “If you find out that your information may wind up in the wrong hands, take action to protect yourself.”

To help protect consumers from identity theft, Cooper has also worked to educate consumers about this fast growing crime and pushed through a number of tough laws.

In 2005, Cooper helped put in place one of the most comprehensive laws in the country to make it harder for identity thieves to access consumers’ personal information. The Identity Theft Protection Act minimizes the use of Social Security Numbers as identification numbers, restricts the sale and display of SSNs, requires business as well as state and local government to better protect consumers’ personal information, and gives consumers the right to protect themselves by placing a freeze on their credit. In 2006, Cooper pushed through the additional requirement that state and local governments report security breaches.