North Carolina Department of Justice
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Cooper's ID Theft bill wins House approval

Release date: 5/23/2005

Raleigh: North Carolinians will have more protection from identity thieves under a new law that passed the

N.C. House today, Attorney General Roy Cooper said.

“All a criminal needs is one key piece of information about you to steal your identity and run up huge debts in your name,” said Cooper. “We’re making it harder for thieves to get access to that information in the first place, and easier for consumers to take steps to protect themselves.”

The Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005 (House Bill 1248) earned unanimous approval today by the N.C. House. The bill was introduced at Cooper’s request by Representatives Bruce Goforth, Ronnie Sutton, Joe Kiser and Karen Ray. A companion bill introduced by Senator Dan Clodfelter (Senate Bill 1048) is pending in the N.C. Senate.

Identity theft happens when a criminal steals some piece of personal information, such as your social security number or date of birth, and uses it to commit financial fraud in your name. Some identity thieves even give their victim’s name to police where they’re arrested for committing crimes, causing innocent people to be charged with crimes they didn’t commit.

Approximately 300,000 North Carolinians have their identity stolen each year. A typical identity theft victim spends on average $800 and 175 hours over 23 months to clean up his or her credit and erase $18,000 in fraudulent charges. The national cost of identity theft annually is $55 billion, including billions of dollars in losses to businesses.

To cut down on identity theft in North Carolina, the measure proposed by Cooper would:

  • Minimize the use of Social Security Numbers as identification numbers and restrict the sale and display of SSNs.

 

  • Give consumers the right to place a security “freeze” on their credit reports to block an identity thief from opening new accounts or obtaining credit in your name.

 

  • Require businesses to notify their customers if a security breach may have compromised their personal information and placed them at risk of identity theft.

 

  • Make sure that businesses that are disposing of personal identifying information about their customers destroy or shred those records, so that identity thieves can’t retrieve information from discarded files that have been carelessly thrown away.

     

  • Prohibit state and local government agencies from unnecessarily collecting people’s Social Security Numbers, or from disclosing SSNs to the general public if the government has them.