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Cooper's push for free security freeze for vets wins approval

Release date: 7/12/2006

Raleigh: North Carolina military personnel, veterans and other consumers will have more tools to help them protect their personal information from identity thieves under two new laws pushed by Attorney General Roy Cooper and approved by legislators today.

A security freeze can stop an identity thief in his tracks,” said Cooper. “We’re taking action to help our veterans and military families whose information was stolen, and we’re making sure North Carolina government lets people know if a security breach puts them at risk.”

A measure to allow military personnel, veterans and their families who are victims of the recent theft of information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to freeze their credit for free to protect themselves from identity theft earned final approval from the General Assembly today. The measure will now go to Governor Mike Easley for his signature.

Names, birth dates and Social Security numbers belonging to millions of veterans, members of the military and their families were recently stolen from the VA, putting these men and women at increased risk of identity theft. The laptop containing this sensitive data was recovered, but there is no way to tell who may have accessed or copied the information.

Under the measure, House Bill 2883 sponsored by Representative Bruce Goforth, free security freezes will be available for these North Carolinians as soon as the bill is signed into law. Eligible consumers have at least 90 days to put a free freeze on their credit and may have even longer, until January 1, 2007, unless the VA takes action to offer these impacted consumers free credit monitoring.

The Senate also voted today 48 to 0 to require state and local government to notify consumers if a security breach may have compromised their personal information and placed them at greater risk of identity theft. The measure, House Bill 1248, now goes to the House for concurrence. Cooper worked with Senator Daniel Clodfelter to craft the new requirement as an addition to last year’s landmark Identity Theft Protection Act, which already requires businesses to notify their customers if a security breach occurs.

“Government should have to play by the same rules as businesses and tell consumers when their information is at risk so they can take steps to protect themselves,” said Cooper.

The Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005 also created the security freeze as a new tool for North Carolinians. Any North Carolina consumer can place a freeze on his or her credit for a fee of $10 paid to each of the three credit reporting agencies. Identity theft victims can request a freeze for free. Once a freeze is in place, credit reporting agencies are prohibited from releasing any information about you to new creditors without your approval, making it difficult for an identity thief to use your information to open an account or get credit.

 

 

 

  Contact:  Noelle Talley, (919) 716-6413