|Laws protecting SS numbers effective Jan. 1 |
|Starting Jan. 1, Tennessee businesses will be prohibited from including Social Security numbers in consumer mailings or requiring them to be used as identification on the Internet. |
The restrictions are part of a new law, the Credit Security Act of 2007, approved unanimously by state lawmakers last spring in hopes of preventing identity theft.
“It’s appalling that if a thief gets your name, Social Security number and date of birth, he can buy something or establish credit in your name. We applaud the Legislature and the governor for trying to keep consumers safe,’’ said Karin Miller, communications director of AARP Tennessee, which pushed for passage of the law.
Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the U.S., with an estimated 15 million victims last year, according to AARP research. Some 23 percent of all identity theft complaints came from people age 50 or older, the Federal Trade Commission says.
The new law requires businesses, non-profit organizations and governments to make “reasonable efforts’’ to protect Social Security numbers, specifically outlawing their use on identification cards or for public display. It also restricts the use of Social Security numbers in materials mailed to consumers or to access Internet web sites. Starting in 2009, each violation will be a Class B misdemeanor.
As part of the law’s provisions, Comptroller John Morgan is reviewing current state and local practices on protecting Social Security numbers and will make recommendations to the Legislature by Feb. 1.
The law also will enable consumers to control access to their credit files through an affordable and easily accessible “security freeze” beginning Sept. 1.