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AG: Protected Consumer Security Freeze law now in effect
Start Date: 7/2/2014 All Day
End Date: 7/2/2014
Entry Description

AG: Protected Consumer Security Freeze law now in effect

Zoeller thanks Rep. Forestal for proactive stance to prevent identity theft

INDIANAPOLIS – A new consumer protection law takes effect today, July 1, part of an ongoing effort by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft and safeguard their credit.  Because identity thieves attempt to steal the information of individuals such as children who have clean credit history in order to assume their identities and perpetrate fraud, the new law offers a “protected consumer security freeze” that parents can use to protect their children from identity theft.

The Attorney General’s Office operates the Identity Theft Unit within the Consumer Protection Division to assist consumers who have been victims of that identity theft. Between January 2013 and June 2014, the unit responded to 882 complaints related to identity theft, including nine complaints where victims were minors. For several years, consumers have been able to place a security freeze on their credit reports free of charge. By registering for a security freeze with the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, a consumer can prevent identity thieves from opening up a line of credit in their name, even if their identifying information is stolen.

During the 2014 Legislature, Zoeller urged legislators to pass Senate Enrolled Act 394, which made several updates to state consumer protection laws enforced by the AG’s Office.  The bill passed 41-0 in the state Senate and 96-1 in the Indiana House, the Governor signed it into law and it takes effect today.

Contained within SEA 394 was an amendment offered by State Rep. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis, that creates a “protected consumer security freeze.”  It will allow parents to sign up their children ages 16 and younger for a security freeze with three credit reporting agencies, and will allow the legal guardians of mentally disabled adults to register them as well.  Rep. Forestal’s amendment to SEA 394 requires the three credit reporting agencies to begin offering the protected consumer security freeze service in Indiana, over and above the existing free sign-up offered online at www.IndianaConsumer.com.

“Parents must recognize that their children – even those too young to obtain credit cards – can fall victim to identity thieves who can ruin their credit for years to come, so a security freeze is a sensible precaution. This additional measure Representative Forestal added to the bill will strengthen the existing security freeze program that has protected many Hoosiers,” Zoeller said.

“This may have been the most important consumer protection bill of this past session,” Rep. Forestal said. “By allowing parents to put a ‘freeze’ on their children’s credit records, their sons and daughters will be better protected against identity thieves. People with disabilities will also be given protection by allowing their legal guardians to request a freeze on their credit records as well. The new law was the result of an important, bipartisan effort that sends a message to identity thieves that Indiana will protect its most vulnerable citizens from being victimized.”

For most consumers, the online security freeze is free and can be found on the Attorney General’s web site at http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2891.htm. Under Rep. Forestal’s amendment to SEA 394, credit service bureaus will be allowed to charge a small fee of up to $5 for individuals signing up their child or disabled person for whom they are the guardian for a protected consumer security freeze, and some material must be submitted in writing.  Information about registering for a security freeze under the new law will be posted at www.IndianaConsumer.com as soon as the information is available.

Attorney General Zoeller said Forestal’s amendment in SEA 394 is a good start on broader legislation intended to protect Hoosiers against identity theft.  In light of the recent data security breaches at Target and Michael’s stores and at other retailers, Zoeller said he plans to recommend the 2015 Legislature build upon SEA 394 and pass additional comprehensive legislation to more effectively penalize database owners whose data breaches leave consumers vulnerable to identity theft.

Zoeller also thanked the original authors of this year’s Senate Enrolled Act 394 that contains other consumer-protection provisions, including State Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, and State Sen. Joseph Zakas, R-Granger, and the House author, State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel. 

Any consumer who believes they have fallen victim to identity theft can contact the Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit and file a consumer complaint online at: https://indianaattorneygeneral.secure.force.com/IDTheftComplaintForm

Contact Information:
Name: Jaime Barb
Phone: 317-234-8105
Email: jaime.barb@atg.in.gov
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