Every year, thousands of people fall victims to natural disasters - ranging from blizzards, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. These disasters wreak havoc on families, homes and entire communities all across America. People are reminded to take action to prepare before these events happen but sometimes they occur without warning. Our lives can be changed in an instant by a number of different emergencies and financial disaster is just around the corner when you are not prepared.
The landscape in Texas was changed September 1st, 2007 when the "New Identity Theft Credit Bureau Freeze Law" was enacted by the 80th Texas Legislature by a vote in both houses of 176-0.
The Texas Legislature has taken action. Now it is time for all Texas consumers to take action to freeze, lock-down, or close-the-barn-door on all "Identity Thieves" that want to operate within the borders of Texas.
It is foolish not to use this new law. Since February 2005 (Choice Point) to LA Fitness (June 2007) there has been over 150 million records exposed in various security breaches throughout the U.S. Over 50 million have been "Victims of Identity Theft" according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) since 2000. The number continues to grow each year by approximately nine to ten million new victims. Your odds are one in three you will be a victim. Are you willing to roll the dice?
HISTORY OF CURRENT FREEZE LAW (How We Got To 9/1/07)
78th Legislature (2003)
Senate Bill SB473 was introduced and sponsored in 2003 by State Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston, Texas. The billed was passed by both houses and the law went into effect September 1st, 2003. This legislation was a "Freeze Law For Victims Only". You had to be a victim before you could use the new law. It also required a police report to be filed with the credit bureaus before they would freeze your credit files. This law was replaced by the 80th Legislature.
79th State Legislature (2005)
Senate Bill SB100 was introduced and sponsored in 2005 by State Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston, Texas. The Texas State Senate passed SB100, 26-0, however the bill was never voted on by the Texas State House and the billed died.
Our organization made several attempts throughout the regular and special sessions (3) of the 79th Legislature (Remember the School Reform Bills), but all attempts failed.
VA SECURITY BREACH
Our organization used the 2003 Freeze Law (Victims Only) in September of 2006 and set a precedent in Texas by giving all Texas Veterans the option to "Freeze or Not To Freeze" their credit bureau files for veterans, active duty and reserve military personnel who's data was part of the "Veteran Administration Security Breach" on May 3rd, 2006 in Washington D.C. of 26.5 million veterans and 2.2 million active duty military personnel.
By utilizing the current "Credit Bureau Freeze Laws" that existed in seventeen (17) states (September 2006), our organizations actions made it possible for approximately twelve (12) million veterans to have the option "TO FREEZE OR NOT TO FREEZE" their personal credit bureau files. On January 1, 2007, that number was approximately fifteen (15) million. Of the 2.2 million active duty members, their option to freeze was based upon their "Home of Record" state. If their "Home of Record" was one of the twenty-four (24) states, then they were able to freeze their credit files. If they are not, then the only option available to them was a "Active Duty Fraud Alert" placed on one of the three national credit bureau's.
80th State Legislature (2007)
Senate Bill SB222 was introduced and sponsored in 2007 by State Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston, Texas. With Texas climbing to number four (4) in the number of "Victims of Identity Theft" in the U.S. and with three of their major cities in the top ten (See Chart, Bottom of Page), Austin needed to do something.
With the help of a national campaign from Consumer Union targeting Texas's new freeze legislation (SB222), we were able to get this new law passed. Special thanks to House Representative Charlie Howard of Sugarland, Texas for introducing the amendment that allows all Texas consumers to have access to what we call the "15 Minute Thaw Provision" and the "Creditor Specific Provision".
HOW BAD IS IDENTITY THEFT?
The FTC concluded that 40 million adults (A/O 12/31/04) had been victimized by some form of ID theft in the past six years. Victims spend between 30 and 800 hours cleaning up the problem, depending on how severe the theft is (one credit card stolen or your whole wallet, the agency said.
ID theft can be extremely lucrative for criminals, the survey found, who can walk away with over $10,000 per victim when they manage a full-blown identity theft.
Despite consumers' increased willingness to share information with the Federal Trade Commission, many still aren't telling law enforcement agencies about their crimes. About 61 percent told the FTC they didn't complain to a local police department. Another 8 percent went to police, but did not get a police report. That is 28 Million (69% OF 40 Million Victims) Victims of “ID Theft” that never hit the police blotters. That's important because several consumer rights are only available to those who obtain police reports which confirm the incident.
TOP CITIES FOR VICTIMS OF IDENTITY THEFT (No. of Victims Per 100,000 Population), Source FTC, January 2005 to December 2005
1. Phoenix, AZ. 178.3
2. Las Vegas, NV. 158.5
3. Riverside, CA. 145.7
4. DFW Arlington, TX 141.2
5. Los Angeles, CA 134.9
6. Miami, FL. 131.7
7. San Francisco, CA. 130.7
8. Houston, TX. 128.1
9. San Diego, CA. 121.4
10. San Antonio, TX. 119.1
† Copyright 2003-2013, Wilson Unlimited Partners, L.L.C. All rights reserved†
You can send your ID Theft Victim Stories to : Identity Theft Victims U.S., Attention: Victim Stories, P.O. Box 2723, Wylie, TX. 75098-2723