Tuesday, June 28, 2005
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Under a new law (HB 1058) signed by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, victims of identity theft will have the right to put a security freeze on their credit files to prevent crooks from opening new accounts in their names. Illinois is the tenth state to provide some form of security freeze right to consumers. In addition, Blagojevich recently signed HB 1633, which requires companies and government agencies to notify consumers who may be at risk of identity theft because sensitive information about them has been lost or stolen.
“Identity theft has become an epidemic in the U.S. that ruins the credit records of countless consumers every year,” said Susanna Montezemolo, Policy Analyst with Consumers Union’s Financial Privacy Now campaign. “This new law will give identity theft victims the ability to limit that damage by freezing out crooks who try to get credit in their names.”
A security freeze enables the consumer to prevent anyone from looking at his or her own credit reporting file for purposes of granting credit unless the consumer chooses to let that particular business look at the information. This gives the consumer control over who has access to the information needed to process a credit application and prevents crooks from opening new accounts in the consumer’s name. When the consumer is applying for credit, the freeze can be lifted temporarily so the application can be processed.
Illinois’ security freeze is available to identity theft victims who file a police report or complaint with a law enforcement agency. Victims can put a security freeze on their file at no cost and lift it temporarily for free when applying for credit. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2006.
Nine other states have security freeze laws on the books. California allows all consumers to put a security freeze on their credit reporting file at any time, even if they have not been victimized by identity theft. Legislators in Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, and Nevada have passed similar security freeze laws for all consumers, but they have not gone into effect. The Louisiana security freeze law will take effect on July 1, while Nevada’s law will start on October 1. The security freeze laws in Colorado, Connecticut, and Maine will go into effect next year.
Texas allows consumers to put a security freeze on their credit files after they have filed a police report indicating that they have become victims of identity theft. Vermont identity theft victims will get the security freeze safeguard beginning July 1. Washington state’s new security freeze law covering identity theft victims and individuals who have been notified that their personal information has been lost or stolen will go into effect on July 24.
More information about the existing state security freeze laws is available at: http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns//learn_more/002355indiv.html
For more information:
Susanna Montezemolo: 202-462-6262
Michael McCauley: 415-431-6747