As your representative of the 32nd Assembly District, I am committed to ensuring that the needs of those I serve are addressed to the best of my abilities. As a legislator it is my responsibility to implement laws that better protect the children and families of New York State and safeguard its communities. This year over eight hundred bills passed the legislature that may become law. In an effort to keep you informed I have highlighted a new law that will strengthen privacy protection to help safeguard against identity theft. Last year nearly 20,000 New Yorkers reported experiencing the crippling effects of identity theft and the difficult task of restoring their credit rating. That’s why I supported the new law to strengthen privacy protection. The article contained within provides necessary precautions you should take to help protect your privacy and finances. I have also provided information on new laws designed to address New York’s subprime lending crisis; curb children’s exposure to violent video games; and the Alzheimer’s Services Act of 2008.
Please know that as your representative I am constantly working with my colleagues to fight for laws that protect you and your family. I would ask that you read this Fall News Report and the following Winter News Report that will provide you with even more information on the new Laws of 2008.
As always, if I may be of any assistance to you please feel free to stop by or call my district office at (718) 322-3975. I look forward to hearing from you!
Vivian E. Cook
Assemblymember Cook met with students from CUNY School of Social Work to discuss issues of importance to students. Assemblymember Cook enjoys meeting with York College students in the district and during thier annual visits to Albany to discuss a wide range of topics including tuition assistance.
A New Law That will help Deliver Relief to Queens Struggling Homeowners
Assemblymember Cook fought to pass legislation signed into law that would address New York’s subprime lending crisis and offer assistance to homeowners overwhelmed by their mortgages (Chapter 472).
The law helps current homeowners by:
Providing a 90-day pre-foreclosure notice to alert borrowers that are in default or foreclosure
Establishing Mandatory Settlement Conferences to bring a borrower together with the party initiating the foreclosure proceeding
The law also establishes protections for future homeowners by:
- Enacting a subprime mortgage lending statute requiring lenders to consider borrowers’ ability to repay the loan
Cracking down on lender scams and setting standards for home loans that require brokers to act in the best interests of borrowers
Requiring registration of all businesses servicing mortgage loans
Establishing the crime of residential mortgage fraud
$25 million for legal representation and mediation for lending victims
The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) designed this program to help eligible New York households with certain high-risk mortgages avoid possible foreclosure. The program provides struggling homeowners with affordable monthly payments for the full term of the mortgage – eliminating the threat of losing their homes. for more information
or call 1-800-382-HOME.
Assembly Member Cook: Working for the Residents of the 32nd District
New Identity Theft Protections
Consumers should not live in fear of identity theft. The new law, which I supported, will give victims peace of mind in knowing they can find help (Chapter 279 of 2008).
The New Law will:
- restrict an employer’s distribution of an employee’s personal information by prohibiting Social Security numbers on ID badges, ID cards, time cards, or in files with open access;
- ban the use of “skimmer” devices, which can obtain personal identifying information from credit cards, under circumstances where the intention is to use the device to commit identity theft;
apply confidentially protections to prevent the intentional distribution of Social Security numbers to the public;
enable identity theft victims to get assistance from the Consumer Protection Board’s Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program to help them repair their financial history;
enable identity theft victims to obtain from the thief, restitution equal to the value of the time they spent fixing the damage caused by the identity theft; and
allow consumers to request a freeze on their credit via telephone or secure electronic means, in addition to sending a written request to a credit bureau by certified or overnight mail as provided in the security freeze law (Ch. 63 of 2006). However, a freeze can delay approval of credit applications, and unless the person is a victim of identity theft, there will be a charge to lift the freeze.
Monitoring Your Credit... for free
New York residents can now order one free credit report every year from each of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and/or TransUnion.
Reports can be ordered online at
or by calling (877)322-8228. Also, the Annual Credit Report Request form can be printed at www.ftc.gov and mailed to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Guarding Against Identity Theft
To protect yourself and your family against identity theft, follow these important everyday steps;
Don’t carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport unless needed.
Don’t provide personal information to any person or company that initiates contact with you – only to people you contact directly. Pay special attention to e-mails and phone calls you receive – even if the company seems reputable.
If personal information isn’t required to complete a transaction, don’t give it!
Keep your PINs random. Don’t use obvious passwords. Pick up your mail as soon as possible.
Cancel any unused credit cards. Keep only what you need.
To “opt out” of or “pre-screened” solicitations for credit or insurance, call 1-888-5OPTOUT or
We see this invasive crime now more than ever. With more and more individuals making online purchases and using credit cards to charge gas and groceries, we must be sure to have the proper safeguards in place.
I will always fight to ensure public safety and continue to work for new and better ways to protect the residents of the district.
Cook Announces New Law to Help Parents Curb Children’s Exposure to Violent Video Games
In today’s society, children are bombarded with violent and sexual images on a day-to-day basis. Such exposure often desensitizes our youth – fostering an increasingly calloused view on real-life violence.
This blur between fantasy and reality is a major cause for concern, which is why the Assembly passed legislation I supported tightening restrictions on the sale of video games to minors, Chapter 229 Laws of 2008. With these measures in place, parents and guardians will be better able to control and monitor their child’s video game use.
The law requires new video game consoles sold in New York to contain “parental controls” to allow parents to screen and block access to adult content. It also requires video games to carry a rating in order to better inform parents about the video game’s content.
In addition, the law establishes the Advisory Council on Interactive Media and Youth Violence to:
- address the impact of interactive media and similar entertainment devices on minors;
- review the Entertainment Software Ratings Board ratings system;
- study the establishment of a parent-teacher awareness program to identify and assist students who may have a propensity toward violence; and
- assist in the development of appropriate policies and priorities for intervention, public education and advocacy against youth violence.
We must do more to protect our children from the glorification of violence they are exposed to every day. The content in today’s television, movies and video games is hammering into these young minds the notion that violence is fun, violence is okay. By limiting this exposure we are sending them a strong message that this behavior is not acceptable.
This measure prevents violent and sexual adult content from reaching our most vulnerable and impressionable population – our children. With these restrictions in place, we will be better able to shield them from the indecency and brutality portrayed in too many of today’s video games.
Further Protecting Consumers
Identity Theft Crime Reports
The Assembly passed a law that entitles victims of identity theft to receive police reports of crime without paying for them (Ch. 346 of 2007).
Another law the Assembly passed makes it easier to prosecute thieves who use deceiving e-mails, pop-up ads or spam to rob consumers (Ch 64 of 2006).
- Only give out your Social Security number if you know the information is going to a secure, legitimate and reputable organization.
- Destroy any unwanted documents that obtain personal information including credit card offers!
- Review your consumer credit reports annually for any suspicious activity.
Do Not Call Telemarketing Directory
New York State’s Consumer Protection Board has protected consumers from unwanted telephone marketing since 2001. It supports the federal Do Not Call Improvement Act of 2007, which adds a layer of protection for individuals by assuring that telephone numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry since its inception, will be extended without expiration, unless requested by the consumer.
New Yorkers can always sign up their residential and mobile telephone lines for the Do Not Call Registry or file related complaints online at www.donotcall.gov or by using the toll-free line at 1-888-382-1222.
For Do Not Call or other consumer information, visit the Consumer Protection Board’s Website at www.nysconsumer.gov
or call CPB at 1-800-697-1220.
You may also obtain helpful consumer information on toy safety, home remodeling scams, home heating oil help and telephone services.
Assemblymember Cook met with Rev. Michael Baston, Dean of Student Development and Campus Life at Berkeley College on his annual visit to Albany. The group discussed Higher Education issues that are of importance to the Association of Proprietary Colleges. In photo left of Assemblymember Cook is Rev. Baston along with other representatives of APC.
‘Silver Alert’ system will help locate missing Alzheimer’s patients
Assembly passes Alzheimer’s Services Act of 2008
The bill directs the state Office for the Aging to create a model plan for use by localities that would:
- release the name, photograph, and physical description of the individual to the local department of aging and any other agency providing services to the individual;
- transmit the information electronically or by fax to radio stations and other media outlets serving the community;
- provide appropriate medical and other important information – with consent of the caregiver – to law enforcement and other agencies;
- dispatch the essential information over the police communication system; and
- send the information to the Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority for use on highway variable message signs if there is reason to believe the individual has left the local area.
Last month, a Syracuse woman with Alzheimer’s disease left her home in the middle of the night, traveling all the way to her former home in New Haven, Conn., with the help of several Good Samaritans. Medical authorities were only alerted after she discovered someone living in her former house and became disoriented.
This incident and others like it demonstrate the need for the Alzheimer’s Services Act – a bill I supported that will give local law enforcement the ability to implement a system to help families and communities locate missing loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (A.10265-B). This legislation passed the Assembly and the Senate and awaits the governor’s signature.
The legislation creates a “Silver Alert” system to help locate vulnerable senior citizens. The model system would use available technology and infrastructure and encourage cooperation between law enforcement personnel and not-for-profit organizations regarding people with cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s disease.
By enacting this law, New York would join several other states, including Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia, in taking steps to assist families of senior citizens with locating their missing loved ones.
In addition, the state Office for the Aging is authorized to create training and education programs for local law enforcement personnel regarding persons with cognitive impairments. The bill also requires the Alzheimer’s Coordinating Council to recommend the best uses of locator technology, including global positioning devices and the MedicAlert safe-return program and to help develop an appropriate information advisory for use by physicians to alert patients and caregivers about options for care and locator technology.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York, the rate of Alzheimer’s disease has increased 25 percent since 2000 – and could continue to rise with baby boomers approaching their senior years. Over 300,000 New Yorkers have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses, while one in eight citizens over the age of 65 and one-half of those over the age of 85 are affected by these diseases.
With the incidence of Alzheimer’s increasing, something must be done to protect at-risk seniors who unknowingly find themselves in dangerous situations away from home.