Under a new law signed by Governor M. Jodi Rell, consumers in Connecticut will have the right to put a security freeze on their credit files to prevent identity thieves from opening new credit accounts in their names.
Also, businesses operating in Connecticut will be required to notify consumers whose sensitive information has been compromised as a result of a breach in data security.
“Identity theft has become an epidemic in the U.S. that ruins the credit records of countless consumers every year,” said Susanna Montezemolo, policy analyst with Consumers Union’s Financial Privacy Now campaign. “Connecticut’s new law will help ensure that consumers are made aware when a company’s lax security puts them at risk of identity theft and gives them the power to stop crooks from opening new lines of credit in their names.”
A security freeze enables a consumer to prevent anyone from looking at his or her own credit reporting file for purposes of granting credit unless the consumer chooses to let that particular business look at the information. This gives consumers control over who has access to their information needed to process a credit application and effectively prevents crooks from opening new accounts in their name. When the consumer is applying for credit, the security freeze can be lifted temporarily so the application can be processed.
Connecticut’s new security freeze law applies to all consumers, regardless of whether they have been victims of identity theft. All consumers can put a security freeze on their credit file for $10 and lift it temporarily for the same amount. The provision of the law requiring businesses to notify consumers of security breaches of sensitive information applies to all unencrypted files, media or computerized data. Connecticut’s security free law goes into effect on January 1, 2006.