Simson Garfinkel

A View from Simson Garfinkel

ID Theft Legislation is Now Law

President Bush signed the new Identity Theft legislation today , which means that the US now has a single, nation-wide response to the growing identity theft problem.On the one hand, it’s nice to have a single, national law. On the…

  • December 4, 2003

President Bush signed the new Identity Theft legislation today , which means that the US now has a single, nation-wide response to the growing identity theft problem.

On the one hand, it’s nice to have a single, national law. On the other hand, this legislation preempts some states that had legislation that prevented states from sharing personal information without the premission of the data subjects.

The main thing that this law does, apparently, is to re-authorize the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which was set to expire at the end of this year. (That would have been a disaster for consumers.) Joy! The legislation also mandates one free credit report each year (something many consumers already had because of state legislation), and it requires businesses to black out social security numbers, credit card numbers, and debit card numbers on receipts (something that many businesses were already doing).

Unfortunately, this law doesn’t really do what needs to be done to stem the tide of identity theft. The key thing that needs to be done is that banks need to be financially liable when they file a false report with a credit report. That is, if the bank doesn’t properly validate the identity of a person to whom they issue a credit card, and then the person doesn’t pay, the bank should be liable for damages when the incorrect credit card report is filed.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

You've read of free articles this month.