National Fraud Awareness Week moves Illinois to
restrict use of Social Security numbers
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[JULY 17, 2004]
SPRINGFIELD -- As
part of National Fraud Awareness Week, July 11-17, Gov. Rod
Blagojevich signed a second piece of legislation Thursday that is
expected to sharply curtail the unnecessary dissemination of Social
Security numbers in Illinois -- a leading cause of identity theft.
House Bill 4712 drastically reduces the use of Social Security
numbers as a personal identifier. Wednesday the governor signed
House Bill 2545, a bill that prohibits insurance companies from
printing or embedding Social Security numbers on consumers'
"We will do as much to protect
people from criminals who misuse other people's personal information
as we do to protect them from criminals who use brute force," Gov.
According to the Privacy Rights
Clearinghouse and the Federal Trade Commission, victims of identity
theft and fraud spend 175 hours -- more than four work weeks -- and
$1,000 out-of-pocket to clear their names.
House Bill 4712, sponsored by
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago, and Rep. Charles Morrow, D-Chicago,
amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to
make it illegal to:
"All of us are aware of the
threat of identity theft," said Obama. "This bill is one small step
to offer consumers protection from the enormously draining
consequences of identity theft."
"Identity theft can lead to
serious credit problems and hassles that take months to work out.
I'm glad we're able to do something today that makes it harder for
criminals to get ahold of Social Security numbers. I think this new
law will help save a lot of people the headache and expense of
clearing their credit," said Morrow.
Morrow and Obama worked with
Wilverlyn Joye Williams, a legal studies student at the University
of Illinois at Springfield, on drafting the legislation.
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"I want to thank Representative
Morrow and Senator Obama for agreeing to sponsor this bill and the
governor for signing it into law," Williams said. "Not only did this
project help me learn the inner workings of the legislative process,
but it also gave me an opportunity to be part of a successful effort
to make our laws more responsive to people's needs."
In 2003, Illinois residents
lodged 10,681 fraud complaints and reported 9,792 instances of
identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that identity
theft costs individuals and businesses more than $50 billion per
Gov. Blagojevich's signing of
House Bill 4712 and the observance of National Fraud Awareness Week
mark the first anniversary of
Fraud-Net in Illinois, a collaborative effort between financial
institutions and law enforcement agencies to share information
online about fraudulent activity. In addition, the Illinois Bankers
Association and Association of Certified Fraud Examiners are working
with state agencies to educate businesses and consumers about how to
detect, report and deter fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission
recommends that individuals who suspect they have been victimized by
identity theft should:
- Contact the fraud
departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus --
TransUnion -- to place a fraud
alert on their credit file.
- Close the accounts that
they believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a police report. Get
a copy of the report to submit to creditors and others that may
require proof of the crime.
File a complaint with the FTC. The Federal Trade Commission
maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law
enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also
helps the FTC learn more about identity theft and the problems
victims are having, so that officials can provide better
[News release from the