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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ind. Decisions - Yet more on 7th Circuit decision re identity theft

This ILB entry from Aug. 25th, and its links, point to serious shortcomings in the Indiana laws said to protect Hoosiers against identity theft.

The one bright spot, the ILB wrote, is that "During this year's 2007 session, one of the deficiencies was addressed, the freezing of credit reports." Today with much fan-fare, the measure, which takes effect Sept. 1st, is announced. See this story by Mike Smith of the AP in the Indianapolis Star; this story by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener in the Louisville Courier Journal, and this story by Bryan Corbin in the Evansville Courier & Press. Corbin does mention: "Officials are touting the law, but acknowledge it is more effective as a preventive measure than as a remedy for the crime," which is the concern the ILB has raised since the initial law was enacted in 2006.

As to how the credit freeze provisions will operate, the LCJ story explains:

Advocates of the law say it will prevent thieves who have obtained a Social Security number or other personal data from using the information to open new lines of credit and sticking unsuspecting consumers with the bills.

"Consumers are going to be in control," Attorney General Steve Carter said yesterday. "You don't want to wait to become a victim of identify theft. We're all subject to the risks that are out there, and this is one way to reduce that risk significantly."

But at least for the next 16 months, taking advantage of the freeze will also make it somewhat less convenient for consumers to obtain credit themselves. That's because until Jan. 1, 2009, consumers can invoke or release the credit freeze only by writing letters to the credit agencies. After receiving the letters, the agencies then have five days to put the freeze in place or three days to lift it.

Starting in 2009, however, the law requires that credit bureaus have a system in place that will allow consumers to use the telephone or Internet to make changes in 15 minutes.

For now, Carter said, it's worth the nuisance of planning ahead.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 30, 2007 08:18 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions