New Yorkers will soon be able to block identity thieves from opening phony accounts in their name, now that security freeze legislation sponsored by Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) was signed into law by Governor George Pataki.
"Identity theft is the number one consumer crime in New York State and can strike at a moment’s notice," said Senator Fuschillo, who was himself once a victim of identity theft. "By giving consumers the power to freeze their credit, we have created a proactive defense against identity theft and will dramatically improve a person’s ability to protect their private information. I thank Governor Pataki for helping us to enact one of the toughest anti-identity theft laws in the country."
The new law will allow consumers to place a security freeze on their credit. One of the greatest obstacles for an identity thief to overcome, a security freeze blocks all access to a consumer’s credit reports. A consumer who places a security freeze is provided a unique PIN or password that must be given to a credit reporting agency each time the consumer wants to allow access to their credit information. If a credit card company or bank cannot view an applicant’s credit history, they are unlikely to issue that person any new credit cards, loans, etc. This effectively cuts off a thief's ability to use someone’s private information to get credit, loans and leases in their name.
Senator Fuschillo pointed to the example of Long Island resident Denise Curro as a prime example of why this law is needed. Denise became a victim of ID theft 8 years ago when her wallet was stolen in North Carolina. Although she immediately reported the crime to authorities, the thief used Denise’s identity to open up almost 50 different accounts, and even get married, effectively destroying Denise’s credit rating.
Had this law been in effect at the time, Denise could have immediately frozen her credit and prevented the ID thief from opening these accounts in her name.
"Here is an instance where a young woman’s credit was ruined before she was even 19 years old, and who is now forced to fight a daily battle to clear her finances. We needed this law to make sure that what happened to Denise does not happen to anyone else in the future," Senator Fuschillo added.
"I commend Senator Fuschillo for taking the steps necessary to help people protect their identity," said Denise Curro. "This credit freeze will enable everyone to control who is gaining access to their credit report and personal information. I think this is wonderful. I for one will choose to freeze my credit and I urge everyone to do the same. Thank you Senator Fuschillo."
"Identity theft is a rapidly growing crime and I applaud Senator Fuschillo in his efforts to help people protect themselves from this nightmare. I hope there will be more legislation in the future regarding identity theft. I know first hand how this can destroy your life and I will be taking advantage of this credit freeze," said Denise’s mother, Angela Curro.
The new law will take effect on November 1, 2006.
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