Lotsa New NYS Laws re: Identity Theft, Phishing, Privacy

- unfortunately, it reads like what it is, a wordy press release. Take special note of the mandatory destruction of records before disposal. Also of interest is that ISPs and others now have a cause of action in filing suit.

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New York Remains National Leader in Providing Consumers with Ability to Proactively Protect their Credit Reports from Third Party Access

Governor George E. Pataki today signed three bills that will further protect New York's consumers and their privacy. These bills will allow consumers to proactively defend themselves against identity thieves, require businesses to properly discard documents and records containing personal information, and prohibit individuals from deceptively soliciting sensitive information from Internet users.

They will also help prohibit the potential repercussions that many identity theft victims encounter, including the denial of loan applications, false arrest, and criminal records.

"Before another New Yorker falls victim to fraud or identity theft, these laws, signed today, will go a long way to protecting our consumers, in the future," Governor Pataki said. "As all New Yorkers come to rely heavily on the Internet in their daily lives, we must exercise all possible avenues to ensure the safety and privacy of our consumers and protect them from identity fraud. These three laws make certain that New Yorkers have additional tools to combat those wishing to take advantage of them and their families."

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., Chairman of the Senate's Consumer Protection Committee and sponsor of the bills said, "As criminals continue to devise new schemes to steal people's private information, New York State must come up with stronger laws to protect its consumers. By giving people the ability to freeze their credit and requiring businesses and governments to properly dispose of records containing private information, we will be enacting three of the toughest anti-identity theft laws in the country."

"I thank Governor Pataki for helping us enact these important new laws that will greatly benefit all New Yorkers."

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee said, "With the recent announcement that millions of the nation's veterans are the potential victims of identity theft this legislation is extraordinarily timely in aiding these New York Veterans involved in this matter, as well as consumers across the state."

"These bills were developed after intensive negotiations with all parties involved, and we believe that the result is a comprehensive package of legislation that addresses the needs of our consumers and continues to demonstrate that New York remains a leader in the fight against identity theft."

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, sponsor of one of the bills, said, "Today, we took a huge step forward to protect consumers throughout this State from the nefarious activities of online fraudsters. The Internet is a lot like the Wild West where thieves and fraudsters lurk in every corner. Phishers prey on the people and this bill stops them."

Teresa A. Santiago, Chairperson and Executive Director of the New York State Consumer Protection Board (CPB) said, "These new laws will help protect New Yorkers from the financial costs and emotional stress that can result from identity theft. The CPB was the first to propose legislation that would prevent Identity Theft resulting from the improper disposal of records containing personal information. When receipts and other documents are not shredded or otherwise destroyed prior to disposal, there is a greater likelihood that consumers may become victims of identity theft."

The Security Freeze Law allows consumers, who are either identity theft victims or are concerned that they might be at risk of having their identities stolen, to cut off an identity thief's access to credit, loans, leases, goods and services by placing a "freeze" on their consumer credit report. Consumers must have proper identification and may have to pay an applicable fee, not to exceed $5.00, to have the freeze put in place.

Consumers must send a written request to a consumer credit reporting agency by certified or overnight mail and would be permitted to remove a freeze entirely, lift a freeze for specific period of time, or grant a specific party access to their report. Consumers must have proper identification, their PIN or password (that the credit reporting agency supplies), the name of the party to whom the information may be made available, the time period of availability and payment of any applicable fees.

The Disposal of Personal Records Law requires any business to properly dispose of records containing personal information through one of the following means: shredding, destruction, modification, or other reasonable action to ensure that no unauthorized person will have access to the personal information. This law will ensure that disposed records containing personal information are not a source that thieves rely upon to commit identity theft.

The Law also provides that a failure to properly dispose of records by any business or other business under this law would result in a civil penalty of up to $5,000.

The Anti-Phishing Act of 2006 prohibits the deceptive solicitation of personal information through electronic communications. Internet service providers, affected trademark holders or the Attorney General are authorized to bring an action to recover the greater of actual damages or $1,000 per violation. Treble damages are also allowed when the court finds that a person has engaged in a pattern and practice of phishing.

Phishing is the act of sending an e-mail to an Internet user, falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The scammer lures the potential victim out of a sea of internet users for passwords and financial data. "Phishing" accounts for nearly 25% of all Internet fraud.

_____________________________________________________ Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key snipped-for-privacy@panix.com [to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]

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Danny Burstein
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