2003-11-14 / Community

Pheffer Sponsors Identity Theft Bill

Pheffer Sponsors Identity Theft Bill

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer, Chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee, and sponsor of this legislation recently announced that Governor Pataki signed into law a bill to combat the growing problem of identity theft by requiring businesses to limit the information that is printed on credit-card and debit-card receipts.

"This important new consumer protection measure will help protect New Yorkers from becoming victims of credit card fraud or identity theft," Governor Pataki said. "By limiting the information that can be printed on business receipts, we can help prevent an individual’s personal financial information from falling into the hands of criminals."

The new law requires merchants and other businesses to remove the expiration date of credit cards and debit cards from printed receipts. The new law also requires that no more than the last five digits of an account number appear on a receipt.

The law applies only to electronically-printed receipts. Any new credit and debit-card machines placed into service on or after Jan. 1, 2004 must comply with the new law. Credit and debit-card machines in use prior to Jan. 1 must conform with the new law by Jan. 1, 2007. Violations of the new law carry a maximum civil fine of $4,500.

Assemblywoman Pheffer said, "By restricting the credit and debit card information printed on cash register receipts, we are taking another step to safeguard consumers from being victimized by criminals. Identity theft is a devastating crime that consumers, in this growing cashless society, can be vulnerable to if the proper protections are not taken. This new law will take opportunities away from criminals who shamelessly prey on the personal information of unsuspecting consumers."

Senator Stephen Saland, sponsor of the new law in the Senate, said, "I am extremely pleased that this important new consumer protection will now become law. The devastating effects of identity theft and consumer fraud cannot be underestimated. This new law will insure far greater protection to consumers when using their debit or credit cards. Their identity will no longer be able to be stolen through the use of receipts."

A recent survey released by the Federal Trade Commission showed that more than 27 million Americans have been victims of identity theft during the past five years — 9.9 million people in the last year alone. The Commission found that the reported cases last year cost consumer victims $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses and businesses and financial institutions a whopping $48 billion.

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