Colorado consumers get powerful new identity theft protection

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Monday, June 6, 2005

Colorado governor signs new Identity theft protection into law

New law gives consumers the right to put security freeze on their credit files

DENVER, CO – Under a new law signed by Governor Bill Owens, consumers in Colorado will have the right to put a security freeze on their credit files to prevent identity thieves from opening new credit accounts in their names. Colorado is the sixth state to provide some form of security freeze right to consumers. Many other states around the country are considering such laws in the wake of a string of data security breach and identity theft scandals this year.

“Identity theft has become an epidemic in the U.S. that ruins the credit records of countless consumers every year,” said Gail Hillebrand, Director of Consumers Union’s Financial Privacy Now campaign. “Colorado’s new security freeze law gives consumers the power to stop crooks cold when it comes to opening new accounts in their names.”

A security freeze enables the consumer to prevent anyone from looking at his or her own credit reporting file for purposes of granting credit unless the consumer chooses to allow it. This gives the consumer control over who has access to the information needed to process a credit application and effectively prevents crooks from opening new accounts in the consumer’s name. When the consumer is applying for credit, the security freeze can be lifted temporarily so the application can be processed. Colorado’s security freeze law (SB 137) will go into effect on July 1, 2006.

Five other states have security freeze laws on the books. Like Colorado, California allows all consumers to put a security freeze on their credit reporting file at any time, even if they have not been victimized by identity theft. A similar security freeze law goes into effect in Louisiana in July 2005.

Texas allows consumers to put a security freeze on their credit files after they have filed a police report indicating that they have become victims of identity theft. Vermont identity theft victims will get the security freeze safeguard when the state’s law goes into effect in July 2005. In May, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed a security freeze law covering identity theft victims and individuals who have been notified that their personal information has been compromised due to a breach in computer security. It goes into effect on July 24, 2005.

More information about these state security freeze laws is available at:
http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns//learn_more/002355indiv.html

Contact: Gail Hillebrand, Consumers Union: 415-431-6747, ext 136