Local News

State Lawmakers In Position To Pass Aggressive ID Theft Legislation

Posted May 21, 2005

— North Carolina lawmakers are in position to pass one of the most aggressive forms of identity theft legislation in the country.

On Thursday, legislation aimed at protecting people from identity theft by restricting the use of Social Security numbers won approval from House and Senate committees.

If state lawmakers pass the Identification Theft Protection Act, social security numbers may do a giant disappearing act.

"Identification theft is the fastest growing crime not only in North Carolina but in the country," N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper said.

North Carolina had nearly 300,000 cases of identification theft last year, costing businesses billions of dollars and ruining reputations. In some cases, innocent people were arrested because they were mistaken for crooks.

"What this legislation does is work to get businesses and government to do a better job of protecting your personal information," Cooper said.

Under the proposed law, companies and government agencies would be required to periodically destroy documents containing personal information.

The bill would also minimize the use of social security numbers, and businesses would be required to notify customers of security breaches. Consumers also would have the right to freeze their credit reports to prevent crooks from taking out loans.

Some retail organizations oppose the Identity Theft Protection Act because it would limit their ability to do consumer research.

And Denis Hayes, an identity theft victim who spent three years trying to clear his name, is skeptical.

"It will help, but will it stop it? I don't think so," Hayes said. "If they want to get your numbers, they will figure out a way to get them."

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