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As identity theft and fraud become a growing concern, legislation is introduced and passed to help protect consumers. The Identity Theft Protection Act was established to give consumers more protective services and access to personal information collected about them. It is also designed to encourage credit issuers and credit reporters to do their part in making sure credit is extended to the right person. This bill codified the fraud alert option for victims of identity theft. By requesting a fraud alert to be placed on credit reports, the report is closely monitored by the credit reporting agencies and notifies consumers of suspicious activity.
Historically, the Social Security number has often been used by businesses as a person's identification number. In many companies, including health care insurance companies, it has been used as an individual's account number. However, this practice opens doors wide for identity theft. With this growing concern, the Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2007 amends title II of the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit the use of the Social Security number for any other reason except for specified Social Security and tax purposes.
This is great news for consumers and you must be diligent in ensuring that companies and organizations you do business with abide by this rule. Check your current accounts to determine if your Social Security number has been used as your account number. Check health insurance membership cards, utility bills, credit card numbers, retirement plans, and any loans or brokerage accounts you may have. If you discover that your Social Security number has been used as identification for the account, contact the organization and request that a new account number be issued.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|