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Federal laws have made great strides in helping to protect individuals from identity theft and stiffen punishment and penalties for offenders. Now, individual states are stepping up to impose laws of their own designed to prevent identity theft.
For example, in Jan. 2007, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed an identity theft protection bill into law that requires businesses in the state of Michigan to notify consumers when personal information has been illegally accessed or stolen. Prior to this time, businesses were not compelled to inform their customers of breaches to their systems.
Notifying consumers about a security breach gives them the opportunity to take protective and preventive measures to avoid identity theft. They can place fraud alerts on their credit reports, which pumps up monitoring of activity. Michigan is also considering the addition of a security freeze law that would allow consumers to “freeze” their credit reports from being accessed by anyone without their permission. Already adopted by more than 30 states, freeze laws have been likened to placing a padlock on your identity and could prove to be the most ‘bullet proof' form of identity theft prevention.
Along with requiring businesses to notify customers of a security breach, the new law imposes stiffer penalties for those who don't. If a company fails to contact consumers it can face fines up to $750,000 – the strongest penalty in the country.
To find out what your state laws are concerning identity theft prevention and protection, contact your state Attorney General's office.