Computer Crime Research Center


Id theft bill

Date: January 03, 2006

New Jersey has joined a handful of states with something that New York and the federal government lack — a law to give people some protection against identity theft. More than 55 million Americans became vulnerable to identity theft by computer breaches and break-ins alone in 2005, making it the worst year yet for cybercrime.

A new law went into effect yesterday that lets New Jersey residents freeze access to their personal credit reports to prevent thieves from using their data, even if they have the Social Security number. All businesses are now required to notify customers of security breaches that put their personal information at risk Consumer advocates consider the New Jersey law among the nation's best.

It was less than a year ago that the nation was shocked by the first widely reported incidence of potential identity theft. In March 2005, ChoicePoint, a Georgia-based information broker, revealed that the personal data of hundreds of thousands of Americans in all 50 states had been compromised. The revelation came only because a California law required customer notification of data theft.

Since then, the identify of millions of Americans has been compromised in known computer-security breaches.

Last month alone: Marriott International notified 206,000 customers and employees that computer tapes with Social Security and credit card numbers disappeared from an office; Ford Motor Co. told 70,000 current and former workers that personal information had been stolen; ABN Amro Mortgage Group said that a tape with information on some 2 million customers was lost in transit and subsequently recovered; and the Sam's Club division of Wal-Mart said that at least 600 credit card customers may have been victims of fraud.
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