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March 21, 2006
Posted online April 19, 2006

Gov. urges the U.S. House to reject legislation that would roll back consumer protection laws

State of Illinois

CHICAGO – Continuing his effort to protect the privacy rights of Illinoisans, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today sent a letter to members of Illinois' Congressional Delegation, urging them to reject federal legislation that would roll back existing state identity theft notification laws and prevent new laws intended to protect Illinois residents from having their cell phone records and other personal information released through a practice known as "pretexting". Under the Financial Data Protection Act, companies would be able decide whether or not they need to notify consumers about security breaches that put their personal information at risk.

"The Financial Data Protection Act, which places the interests of corporations ahead of the rights of consumers, would put personal information at a tremendous risk," Gov. Blagojevich wrote to lawmakers. "Every day, new advances in technology are making it easier for identity thieves to find ways to encroach upon consumer privacy. Protecting privacy is a critical goal that must not be compromised. On behalf of all Illinoisans, I urge you to reject this bill."

Earlier this month, high-tech thieves hacked the computer systems at Citibank and stole countless ATM cards' PIN numbers, which had previously been considered one of the safest types of personal information. Last year alone, identity thieves cost consumers $550 million. On average, victims will spend about 600 hours and $1,500 repairing their credit.

Throughout his administration, Gov. Blagojevich has led the fight for stronger consumer and privacy protections. Last month, the Illinois Senate unanimously passed the governor's legislation that would outlaw "pretexting." Pretexting is pretending to be an account holder, or to have authorization to access an account, to obtain cell phone records, long distance call records, a person's physical location and other personal records, such as GM OnStar information and any other account information relating to that person, such as dating service information or post office boxes. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Illinois would be among the first states in the nation to fight cell phone record pretexting. Senate Bill 2554 has moved to the House for consideration.

Since January 1, everyone in Illinois has been armed with additional tools to shield themselves from the risk of identity theft thanks to several laws signed by Gov. Blagojevich that offer a significantly wider range of consumer protections. The laws help victims recover from identity theft more quickly and better protect individuals' personal information.

© 2005 The Cairo Gate