RALEIGH, N.C. : July 16, 2009 - Consumers will have more protection against identity theft including being able to freeze their credit for free under a new law approved today by the NC General Assembly, Attorney General Roy Cooper said.
“A security freeze on your credit blocks criminals from opening new accounts and running up debts in your name,” Cooper said. “This new law means you can freeze your credit for free to protect your good name.”
Senate Bill 1017, sponsored by Senator Josh Stein, won concurrence in the Senate today after winning unanimous approval in the House earlier this week. Starting October 1, the measure will allow North Carolina consumers to get a security freeze for free through a secure website or for a low fee by telephone or mail. A security freeze prevents an identity thief from opening new accounts or taking out credit in your name
“This legislation represents a major step forward in the fight against identity theft. North Carolinians can now put on a security freeze, which is like a padlock on your credit report, at no cost and much more easily,” said Stein. “We are also the first state in the country to require businesses to notify you that you have a right to a free credit report before they sell you a credit monitoring service.”
In addition to the security freeze provision, Senate Bill 1017 will better protect North Carolina consumers from identity theft by:
• Allowing Registers of Deeds and Clerks of Court to remove consumers’ Social Security numbers from their websites.
• Requiring businesses and state and local government agencies to report all security breaches to Cooper’s office, not just those breaches that compromise the information of 1,000 people or more as required under current law. More than 300 breaches that involved information about a total of at least 1.6 million North Carolina consumers have been reported to Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division since 2005.
• Preventing creditors from reporting victims’ debts caused by criminals to national credit bureaus.
• Making North Carolina the first state in the nation to require credit monitoring services to tell consumers how they can get credit reports for free. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus, available by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or calling 1-877-322-8228.
Since 2002, Cooper has successfully fought for tougher penalties against criminals who commit identity theft and more tools for consumers to protect themselves. Information about how to protect yourself from identity theft and help for victims is available at www.ncdoj.gov.
Source: North Carolina Department of Justice.
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