Arizona Moves Closer Towards Combating Identity Theft

Media Contacts

Arizona PIRG

The House Judiciary Committee today voted in favor of SB1345, a bill that unanimously passed the Senate and would give consumers the right to put a security freeze on their credit files.

“A security freeze enables consumers to prevent thieves from hurting their credit in the first place,” stated Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG). “A security freeze is like putting a lock on your credit.”

According to the most recent report of the Federal Trade Commission, Arizona ranks highest when it comes to per capita identity theft complaints with 9,113 complaints or 147.8 complaints per 100,000 people. Most people do not take the time to file a formal complaint with the FTC, so according to Arizona PIRG these numbers are likely just the tip of the iceberg.

The FTC has estimated that nearly 10 million people nationwide become identity theft victims each year. In about a third of those cases, crooks use stolen information to open new credit accounts in their victims’ names. According to Arizona PIRG, a victim of identity theft spends, on average, $1,180 and 60 hours cleaning up their credit record.

Twenty-seven states, and the District of Columbia have passed laws that enable consumers to prevent identity thieves from using stolen information to open new accounts.

The security freeze established under SB 1345 would enable a consumer to prevent anyone from applying for credit in your name because it blocks access to your credit files. If a security freeze is in place, creditors cannot process new applications for credit unless a consumer gives them permission to do so. If a consumer is applying for credit, they can lift the freeze so that a particular creditor can review the credit file for a specified period of time.

Under the proposed bill, a consumer would be able to initiate a security freeze for a “reasonable fee” determined by the credit bureaus. According to Brown, if Arizona lawmakers are serious about making sure the security freeze is affordable, they should not leave it up to the credit bureaus to set the price. An increasing number of states with security freeze laws have made this safeguard available for $5 for each credit bureau.

“In a world where your personal information is a hot commodity and largely out of your control, it must be easier for you to protect your identity then it is for a thief to shop with it,” Brown added.