Monday, August 13, 2007

Credit Freeze Not the Only Solution to Identity Theft Prevention

Many people who live in states that allow you to freeze your credit are recognizing the benefits of such actions. But a lot are stopping there and not doing any more feeling they have covered the bases and have done what they can to protect themselves.

Governor Deval Patrick from Massachusetts recently signed into law comprehensive identity theft prevention legislation. This new law will require Massachusetts state residents be notified immediately if their personal information has been lost or stolen via security breaches with businesses and government agencies.

As a part of the legislation, the law also states that consumers have the right to freeze their credit reports to prevent new accounts from being fraudulently opened and also puts into effect strict standards for businesses when disposing of personal information.

The portion of the law that puts into place the standards for disposing of personal information is a step in the right direction to identity theft prevention. But allowing a consumer to freeze their credit report does not prevent the theft.

Personal information can already be in the hands of the wrong people. When personal information, such as social security numbers, drivers' license numbers or bank account information is used for widespread fraud, an emotional and potentially expensive mess is left for the victim to clean up.

Of the millions of victims of identity theft last year, many of them had crimes committed against them that had nothing to do with a credit card or loan. This would not be picked up by on credit report which is the focal point of a credit freeze. The black market is booming for individuals' names and IDs for thieves to sell and the buyers will use them for many different types of identity theft. That could include medical treatments, prescriptions, arrests, and theft of existing or open accounts.

One major solution to the problem is for people to practice self defense when it comes to their personal information. Society has become so accustomed to keeping droves of information available we are leaving it laying around us everywhere. The identity thieves are everywhere picking it up.

When it comes to your identity you need to think in terms of fire prevention and not firefighting.