New bill aims to protect SC consumers from ID theft - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

New bill aims to protect SC consumers from ID theft

(Columbia) April 16, 2003 - Consumers would get new tools to fight identity theft under a bill the Senate approved Wednesday. The Consumer Identity Theft Protection Act would let consumers get free credit reports and court help when they discover that someone has fraudulently used their identification to get credit.
     
The bill also would require information about fraudulent accounts to be deleted from victims' reports. And credit card companies would have to verify change of address requests.

Karen Rutherford knows firsthand what can happen when your identity is stolen. Someone got hold of her purse and Social Security number at work six-years-ago, "He sat down all day and created cards on every kind of bank that you can mention."
    
The Columbia woman says the co-worker charged thousands of dollars on those cards in her name. It created a major problem with the credit bureaus, "I would spend hours just trying to get in touch with them to the appropriate person to tell them it was fraud, then you had to prove it was fraud."
    
Rutherford says despite the protections offered in the new bill, she would also like to see tougher penalties. The theft of her name continued after the man who stole her identity got out of prison, "Went to a halfway house in Greenville, changed my identity again, on my long distance carrier and just started using it to call long distance."

Rutherford says the same thief served another sentence for fraud, but he's out of jail. She says even now she has to explain she's a victim of fraud when she tries to make big purchases.
    
A couple of tips that could save a lot of heartache: Don't give out your Social Security number to anyone. Don't give out your credit card number on the phone unless you initiated the call. Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year and make sure you check it for any discrepancies. 

If you're a victim, call local law enforcement or the attorney general's office.

The Federal Trade Commission says 380,000 cases of identity theft were reported last year. Government experts say as many as 700,000 people were victimized, but don't even know it.
    
The Senate bill now heads to the House.

By Jennifer Miskewicz
Posted 10:59pm by BrettWitt

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