Galef Backs Consumer Credit Freezes and Security Alerts to Prevent Identity Theft

February 15, 2006

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef is working to prevent identity theft in New York by proposing Assembly Bill A.7165, same as Senate Bill 2950-A, which would allow consumers to protect their credit information before it is too late. The bill is based on similar legislation passed in California and would permit cardholders to place a security freeze on their information at credit reporting agencies.

Galef took action in response to a constituent that shared his story of being victimized by identity theft. Someone posed as the constituent at a Home Depot in Virginia, was approved for an in-house credit card, and proceeded to rack up $10,000 in charges. The constituent was otherwise uninformed of the situation until finding the hefty bill in his mailbox after the damage had been done. The matter was resolved after a series of phone calls and correspondence but this particular constituent was one of many New Yorkers that experience identity theft because of the fact that there is currently no way to prevent it from happening in the first place.

“Why do we have to wait until something happens before the consumer can protect his credit information?” questioned Galef. “Each of us should have the right to prevent credit theft by ensuring that our credit information is protected.”

If the legislation was passed it would be very similar to a bill passed in California, changing the state’s civil code to allow card holders to place a security alert on their credit reports. When the alert is in place, a series of security checks must be made through a password protected system to assure that the card holder is not an imposter thieving an identity. This also prevents any information from being released to third parties while the alert is in place.

An identical bill, S.2950-A, is sponsored by Senator Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) in the New York State Senate. “This security freeze acts as a barricade against those who would commit fraud,” Saland said. “Identity thieves have already preyed on thousands of New York consumers, stealing personal information that leaves consumers severely at risk. This law empowers consumers to freeze credit lines until they need them, and requires companies to promptly notify consumers potentially at risk due to security breaches.”