Senator Bill Larkin (R-C, Cornwall-on-Hudson) today announced he is cosponsoring legislation (S.6805) in the State Senate to allow victims of identity theft or anyone concerned that they might be at risk of having their identities stolen to place a "freeze" on their consumer credit report.
"While New York already has tough laws criminalizing identity theft, we still rank eighth in the nation in the number of identity theft complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission," said Senator Larkin. "This is a serious concern. Victims of identity theft are left with the cost of clearing their good names, not to mention the aggravation, stress, worry, and sense of intrusion caused by these crimes. This legislation would give consumers another way to protect themselves. A consumer who chooses to place a freeze on their consumer credit report will effectively cut off a thief's ability to get credit, loans and leases in their name."
Senator Larkin also cautioned, "While this action provides excellent protections, I would also tell consumers to realize one potential inconvenience. People should simply be aware that placing a freeze on their credit report may limit their ability to get instant credit or conduct other transactions such as buying insurance in certain circumstances for example. Still, this is another defense that identity theft victims especially may want to have as an option."
According to the bill, an individual would be able to place a security freeze on his or her consumer credit report by sending a written request to a consumer credit reporting agency by certified or overnight mail. The agencies would initially be required to place a freeze on a consumer credit report within five business days of receiving a request from a consumer. Starting in January 2008, that time would be reduced to four days, and then three days starting in January 2009. Consumers would be permitted to remove a freeze entirely, lift a freeze for specific period of time, or grant a specific party access to their frozen report.