DOB: Governor Rell Seeking Additional Safeguards Against ID Theft

{news} NEWS RELEASE

Governor Rell Seeking Additional Safeguards for
Public, Businesses Against Identity Theft


Governor Signs Executive Order Creating Identity Theft Advisory Board,
 Encourages Residents to Order Free Consumer Credit Reports

September 26, 2005

Governor M. Jodi Rell, concerned about the growing vulnerability of Connecticut residents to identity thieves and financial predators, today issued an executive order aimed at strengthening state laws and better protecting the financial security of citizens, businesses and financial institutions.

“We have all read or heard about identity theft, and many have become victims of  what the FBI calls the fastest-growing crime in the nation,” Governor Rell said.  “Identity thieves not only steal money—lots of money—from people and businesses, they violate personal privacy, shatter financial security, and jeopardize consumers’ ability to get loans, mortgages, and even employment.  Unless we have been victimized ourselves, it is difficult to grasp just how serious a problem this is.”  

The executive order establishes the Governor’s Identity Theft Advisory Board, comprised of state regulatory, advocacy and law enforcement agencies, financial services and business representatives, and a member of the public who has been victimized by identity theft.

“My purpose in establishing the advisory board is to thoroughly evaluate the current laws and procedures around identity theft, and get recommendations on how to strengthen these protections,” the Governor said.  “At the same time, I want to ensure that good consumer information is available to Connecticut residents and businesses about preventing identity theft.”

The Governor’s Identity Theft Advisory Board, created by Executive Order No. 11, will report by January 1, 2006, on recommendations for improving Connecticut’s current laws, regulations, policies and procedures to:

  • prevent citizens, businesses and financial institutions from becoming victims of identity theft;
  • promote the security and privacy of personal financial information;
  • minimize the effects of identity theft on those who become victims; and
  • assist in the identification, apprehension and prosecution of identity thieves.
The advisory board will also look at ways to better educate the general public on
identity theft and protection of personal financial information.
 
“Recent accounts of dishonest credit reporting services and the careless treatment of personal financial information have highlighted the need to better protect Connecticut’s residents, businesses and financial institutions from the effects of identity theft,” Governor Rell’s executive order stated. 
 
Nationally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found in 2003 that nearly 10 million Americans discovered they were a victim of identity theft the previous year.  The FTC reports that American businesses lose about $8 billion to identity theft annually, with individual consumers suffering $5 billion in losses from the effects of identity theft.

“The FBI estimates that each year between 500,000 and 700,000 additional Americans, including Connecticut residents, become the victims of identity theft, making such thefts the nation’s fastest-growing crime,” the executive order said.

The Governor’s Identity Theft Advisory Board, to be chaired by Public Safety Commissioner Leonard C. Boyle, will include the Chief State’s Attorney; the state’s Commissioners of Consumer Protection, Insurance, and Banking or their designees; the state’s Chief Information Officer or her designee; the State Victim Advocate; representatives from the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the insurance and financial services fields; a member of the public who is owner of a small business; and a member of the public who has been the victim of identity theft.

* * *

As she announced the identity theft executive order, Governor Rell urged Connecticut residents to help protect their financial security by ordering a free credit report from national consumer reporting agencies -- one of the most effective ways to guard against the theft of financial information.  

“Beginning September 1, a new federal law gave people in eastern states the right to obtain a free copy of their credit report,” the Governor said.  “I encourage Connecticut residents to take advantage of this opportunity to examine and verify their credit records. 
This is a great way to guard against the trauma of identity theft, and now it’s completely free.  Consumers can order their credit report once a year from each of the three major national consumer reporting agencies.”

An amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union--to provide a free copy of credit reports once every 12 months, at the consumer’s request.  Access to the free reports was phased in over the past nine months, rolling from the west to the east coast, according to the Federal Trade Commission.  Beginning September 1, free reports became accessible to all Americans, regardless of where they live.

To take orders for the free credit reports, the three consumer reporting companies have set up a central website (www.annualcreditreport.com); toll-free number (1-877-322-8228) and mailing address (Annual Credit Report Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.    
 
A credit report contains information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy, notes the FTC. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in credit reports to creditors, insurers, employers and other businesses that use it to evaluate applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

 The FTC identifies several reasons to obtain and verify credit reports:

  • Help guard against identify theft, defined as when someone uses your personal information, such as name, Social Security number, or credit card number, to commit fraud.  Identity thieves may use your information to open a new card account in your name.  Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.  Inaccurate information could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.
  • Ensure credit information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan or major purchase line a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
  • Protect your ability to get a loan and the best interest rate.

Further information is also available from the Connecticut Department of Banking’s Consumer Affairs Division at 860-240-8299 or 1-800-831-7225 (toll-free); or on the Department's Web site.

The Executive Order follows:


STATE OF CONNECTICUT
 
BY HER EXCELLENCY
 
M. JODI RELL
 
GOVERNOR
 
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO.  11

WHEREAS, in 2003, the Federal Trade Commission found that nearly 10 million Americans discovered they were a victim of identity theft the previous year;

WHEREAS, the Federal Trade Commission reports that annually in the United States businesses lose approximately $8 billion to identity theft, while nationally, individual consumers suffer $5 billion in losses from the effects of identity theft;

WHEREAS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that each year between 500,000 to 700,000 additional Americans, including Connecticut residents, become the victims of identity theft, making such thefts the nation’s fastest growing crime;

WHEREAS, for the fifth consecutive year, identity theft continues to top the list of complaints by consumers to federal authorities;

WHEREAS, the recent accounts of dishonest credit reporting services and the careless treatment of personal financial information have highlighted the need to better protect Connecticut’s residents, businesses and financial institutions from the effects of identity theft; and

WHEREAS, the effects of identity theft may have devastating and lasting effects on the economy of Connecticut, as well as on the financial circumstances of individuals, families and businesses who are the victims of identity theft.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Governor M. Jodi Rell, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Connecticut do hereby ORDER and DECLARE:

  1. The establishment of the Governor’s Identity Theft Advisory Board (the “Advisory Board”).
  2. The Advisory Board shall survey the current federal and state criminal and civil laws regarding identity theft and the protection of personal financial information and determine what additional laws, regulations, policies and procedures should be enacted to protect Connecticut’s citizens, businesses and financial institutions from the effects of identity theft.
  3. In the performance of its duties, the Advisory Board shall specifically consider and address the ways in which the State of Connecticut can better educate the general public on matters involving identity theft and the protection of personal financial information.
  4. The Advisory Board shall report to the Governor no later than January 1, 2006 with its recommendations to improve Connecticut’s current laws, regulations, policies and procedures to: 1) prevent Connecticut’s citizens, businesses and financial institutions from becoming the victims of identity theft; 2) promote the security and privacy of personal financial information; 3) minimize the effects of identify theft on those who become victims; and 4) assist in the identification, apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators of identify theft.
  5. The Commissioner of the State Department of Public Safety shall be the Chairman of the Advisory Board.  The members of the Advisory Board shall include the:
    a.
    The Commissioner of the State Department of Consumer Protection or his designee;
    b. The Chief State’s Attorney or his designee;
    c. The Commissioner of the State Department of Insurance or her designee;
    d. The Commissioner of the State Department of Banking or her designee;
    e. The Commissioner of the State Department of Public Safety or his designee;
    f. The Chief Information Officer of the State of Connecticut or her designee;
    f. The State Victim Advocate;
    g. A representative from the Insurance and Financial Services Cluster;
    h. A representative from the Connecticut Business and Industry Association;
    i. One member of the public appointed by the Governor who has been the victim of identity theft; and
    j. One member of the public appointed by the Governor who is the owner of a small business.
  6. The Chairman shall convene the first meeting of the Advisory Board no later than October 15, 2005 and shall thereafter meet regularly at a place designated by the Chairman to effectuate the purposes of this Order.
  7. For purposes of funding its activities, the Advisory Board may, as necessary or permitted, in accordance with applicable law and to the extent available:  (1) apply for grants from governmental or other sources; (2) accept and expend such grants on behalf of the State of Connecticut through the Office of Policy and Management or such state agencies; or (3) operate within the existing appropriations of participating state agencies.
  8. This Order shall be effective immediately.
Dated at Hartford, Connecticut, this day of  2005.

M. JODI RELL
Governor

By Her Excellency’s Command:
Susan Bysiewicz
Secretary of the State