Gov. Lynch Signs Law Giving Consumers New Tools To Protect Themselves Against Identity Theft

From The Office of Governor John Lynch

CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch today signed into law legislation giving New Hampshire consumers new tools to protect themselves against identity theft.

"Too many New Hampshire citizens have found themselves victims of identity theft. Their personal information, from credit card numbers to Social Security numbers, has been accessed without their permission and used against them to commit fraud and other crimes," Gov. Lynch said. "The victims of identity theft can soon find themselves living a nightmare. Massive bills have been run up their names; their credit is damaged; and they are forced to spend hours on paperwork and phone calls to restore their good names and good credit.

"Today, we are giving consumers new tools to protect themselves against identity theft, and a new right to receive prompt notification from businesses when their personal information may have been improperly obtained," Gov. Lynch said.

Gov. Lynch today signed Senate Bill 334, which will allows victims of identity theft to ask their credit reporting agency for a "credit freeze." Once they do, their credit reports cannot be forwarded without their consent or involvement, which will help prevent identity thieves from using people's good credit against them. A credit freeze will also prevent criminals from being able to open new lines of credit in their victims' names.

Senate Bill 334 was sponsored by Senators David Gottesman, Sheila Roberge, John Gallus, Bob Clegg, Lou D'Allesandro, Martha Fuller Clark, and Representatives Deborah Hogancamp, Roy Maxfield, Janet Full, and Jordan Ulery. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2007.

Gov. Lynch will also soon sign House Bill 1660, which will place new requirements on businesses and others to let consumers know if their personal information has been improperly disclosed.

Under this new law, businesses will have to disclose to consumers and to law enforcement as soon as possible any identity theft security breach. That means if someone breaks into a company's computer system and gets access to a consumers' social security number or credit information, the businesses will have to notify consumers so they can protect themselves.

House Bill 1660 was sponsored by Representatives Deborah Hogancamp, Neal Kurk, Hills 7, Roy. Maxfield, Jorday Ulery, James. Ryan, and Senators Sheila Roberge, Bob Letourneau, Martha. Fuller Clark, Lou D'Allesandro, and David Gottesman. The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2007.

As an additional tool, New Hampshire's Department of Justice has developed an Identity Theft Protection Kit, which is available on the department's website - www.doj.nh.gov. This kit provides step-by-step information on what to do if you become the victim of identity theft.