FTC ID Theft Numbers Show Congress Needs to Strengthen Laws to Protect Consumers
New Stronger State Laws In California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Texas, Virginia At Risk of Congressional Override
WASHINGTON, DC — With the September 3rd release of a major Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study documenting an epidemic wave of identity theft, the nation’s leading consumer and privacy experts are calling on Congress to strengthen federal law to prevent identity theft and give victims real rights to protect their good names.
The FTC report comes as the financial industry continues a massive campaign urging Congress to permanently take away most state authority to enact stronger financial privacy, credit report accuracy and identity theft prevention laws, in return for modest changes to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The House Financial Services Committee has already approved HR 2622, which permanently blocks most state credit and privacy laws. The Senate Banking Committee is still Medicare Modernization Act ing its counterpart bill.
“Despite the fact that millions of Americans are victimized by identity theft each year, Congress is getting ready to pass a bill that provides only weak protection for consumers and blocks states from enacting tougher reforms,” said Rob Schneider, director of Consumers Union’s www.FinancialPrivacyNow.org project. Schneider noted that the weak U.S. House proposal would not only undermine California’s new financial privacy law, but would also block new identity theft reforms in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, according to an analysis by Consumers Union.
“If Congress blocks states from passing tough laws to prevent this epidemic crime, especially without enacting strong federal reforms, then the identity thieves will win,” said Beth Givens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. “And if states are preempted from passing stronger identity theft laws, consumers lose.”
The nation’s strongest financial privacy law passed in California last month with overwhelming bipartisan support. This new law, sponsored by State Senator Jackie Speier, allows consumers to stop banks and other financial institutions from sharing confidential account and transaction histories with most of their affiliated companies.
“Our coalition will work with Senators Shelby and Sarbanes to ensure that any final credit reporting reform bill fights identity theft, protects financial privacy and helps people get credit at the prices they deserve by improving the accuracy of their credit reports, without taking away state authority to protect consumers.” said U.S. PIRG Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski.
A FTC news release on the ID theft report can be found here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/09/idtheft.htm
# # #