More than 11 million Americans in 2010 became victims of identity fraud, costing them $54 billion and countless hours of frustration.
New account origination is a popular form of identity fraud in which thieves open a line of credit in a victim’s name and make high-value purchases as quickly as possible. Responsibility for this fraud falls on the bank or the store, but it affects us all in the form of higher store prices or higher credit card interest rates.
The most effective way someone can prevent this fraud is to place a freeze on their credit report, which blocks the issuing of new credit.
Michigan is one of only two states without a credit freeze law in place.
The state Senate recently approved my bill to change that and require the three major credit reporting agencies to allow Michigan residents to place a security freeze on their credit information. Since a Carnegie Mellon University study showed that children are 51 times more likely to become victims of identity theft than their parents, residents would also be able to protect their children’s credit.
So legitimate applications for credit or services can be processed, Senate Bill 174 would allow a consumer to temporarily lift the freeze when applying for credit by contacting the reporting bureau and providing a secure PIN number.
My goal is to ensure that every Southwest Michigan consumer has the ability to protect themselves and their families from fraud. With Senate passage of this bill, we are one step closer to making that a reality.