A new law sponsored by Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), Chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee will help prevent identity thieves from obtaining consumers’ private information.
Under the new law, businesses who are discarding records containing a consumer’s personal information, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, birth dates, addresses and telephone numbers, will now be required to shred or destroy those records before putting them in the trash. The law, which takes effect on December 4, 2006, also creates a maximum fine of $5,000 for any business that does not comply.
"Many businesses have very private information about their customers on record that is so valuable to identity thieves that some will actually sift through garbage to find it. We need to make sure that when companies are disposing of their records that they are not putting their customers at risk," said Senator Fuschillo. "By requiring these documents to be destroyed before they are thrown out, we will protect consumers from dumpster divers."
Identity theft is a very serious crime that is on the rise. The General Accounting Office estimates that victims of identity theft spend an average of $808 dollars and 175 hours of their time working to clean up their credit reports after an identity theft has occurred. Victims of identity theft have also been subject to other adverse actions, including denial of loan applications, false arrest, and criminal records.
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