2008-08-29 / Top Stories

New Law Protects Identity Victims

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer announced that the legislation to further protect Identity Theft victims, which she introduced, has been signed into law by Governor David Paterson.

The new statute requires debt collectors to temporarily stop attempts to collect a debt upon notification by the consumer that the debt arose from identity theft. This bill would require a debt collector to stop collecting a consumer debt if an alleged debtor provides the collector with a copy of a valid police report alleging he or she is a victim of identity theft crime and a written statement that the debtor claims to be the victim of identity theft with respect to the specific debt being collected by the debt collector. Any alleged debtor submitting information as part of this procedure that he or she knows to be false would be guilty of a misdemeanor.

"As Chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee, the issue of identity theft has been a major component of my agenda to protect New Yorkers. This new legislation provides important protections for victims of identity theft," said Pheffer.

"With the most recent case of over 41 million stolen credit card numbers, it is vital that we continue our efforts in not only enhancing protections against and penalties for identity theft, but that we also provide further protections once a consumer has become a victim."

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides that an alleged debtor may dispute a debt, and that following a dispute the debt collector must cease collection activity until it verifies the debt. This bill would improve upon federal law by providing identity theft victims and debt collectors with a clear and understandable process for a consumer who is an alleged debtor to provide information with respect to an identity theft claim and for the debt collection process to be stopped until an investigation can be completed by the debt collector.

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