recipient: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives
As identity theft scandals mount, it seems as if its only a matter of time before virtually everyone will fall victim to this insidious form of fraud.
Thats not as far-fetched as it sounds. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 9.9 million Americans are victimized by identity theft every year. Thats 19 new ID theft victims every minute.
Nearly every week we hear about new security breaches at companies like ChoicePoint, Lexis-Nexis, Bank of America and numerous universities. Recent security breaches from these sources put more than two million Americans at risk of having their identities stolen by crooks.
Congress has finally taken the first step to provide consumers with basic safeguards to protect our personal information and prevent identity theft. There are several bills pending in the U.S. Congress that seek to:
Require information brokers to enforce tight security practices to keep your data safe;
Mandate that companies notify you if your information has been compromised; and
Limit the widespread use and display of Social Security numbers that puts your identity at risk.
Act now! Urge your Congressional Representatives to enact strong identity theft protection legislation!
I'm writing to urge you to support comprehensive legislation to protect consumers from the threat of identity theft by safeguarding our personal data.
Nearly every week there is news of another company, government agency, or university that has exposed Americans to identity theft because sensitive consumer records have been stolen, lost, or viewed by someone who shouldn't have seen them.
It's time for Congress to give Americans meaningful identity theft protections. Insist on strong security standards for information brokers with real penalties if they fail to keep my personal information secure. I should be able to see and correct the files that information brokers have about me--and stop them from selling or sharing this information if I want.
Because theft of Social Security numbers is particularly damaging, these numbers should no longer be used as personal identifiers. We also need strong restrictions on the sale or secondary use of Social Security numbers.
If an identity thief takes data that includes information about me, the data company or government agency should have to tell me about it so I can take steps to protect myself. All consumers who receive such a notice should be given the right to place an extended fraud alert on their credit files.
Finally, new technology will introduce new opportunities for ID thieves, and the states can respond rapidly to protect me. Congress should preserve the rights of states to continue developing additional protections as new frauds emerge.
Help protect your constituents from identity theft by enacting these critical safeguards.